The students of Kristhu Kiran Residential School had fun cultivating Amaranthus and initiating farming in the neighbourhood.

Most of these boys would rather not prefer it at the dining table. But the sight of the healthy, lush, purple leaves of Amaranth (Cheera) grown in their school compound was indeed delightful for the students of Kristhu Kiran Residential School, Thevanpara. For, this time, this leafy vegetable represented the fruit of their toil.

Fruit of hard work

The students began farming Amaranthus in a small patch of land in their school as part of the Krishipadom programme of Agri Friends Samskarika Vedi, an agriculture promotion forum. Inspired by the modest but successful harvest in the school, the boys decided to spread the message of health benefits of Amaranth in their community.

The result was the ‘Cheeragramom' campaign in which the students set out creating small patches of Amaranth beds in the kitchen gardens of houses in Thevanpara.

“We selected 100 willing houses for this campaign. About 50 students from our school participated in the campaign. They first convinced the residents to prepare a small Amaranth bed in their garden and then helped them grow it by visiting these houses every evening and watering and rearing the plants,” said N. Biju, a teacher of the school.

Apart from encouraging people to take up farming, the students' campaign is also aimed at inculcating a love for farming among the children of these households. “Since they are peers, it is easier for children to encourage their counterparts in these houses to take up farming. The campaign also helped the students in developing their social and communication skills,” Mr. Biju said adding that school principal Sr. Sujitha was the driving force behind the students' campaign.

Spreading the message

For the students meanwhile, it was a fun way of learning and teaching others about the benefits of farming. They even provided tips on achieving a successful harvest.

“The people of these households were very cooperative. Some of them expressed concern that it was difficult to cultivate Amaranth in the summer season due to scarcity of water. So we told them to channel water from the kitchen to the Amaranth bed,” said Abhijith B.M., a Std VI student of the school.

Forty five days into the campaign, the students proudly led the harvest of Amaranth cultivated in the houses. But this isn't the first agriculture-based initiative of the students of Kristhu Kiran Residential School. They had earlier conducted a ‘manvetti' (spade) survey as part of preparing a thesis for the Children's Agriculture Science Congress held here recently.

“The survey was aimed at finding out the availability and usage of spade in their community and thereby ascertaining how many people engaged in farming. The survey conducted by the students of the school was commendable and they found that although such agriculture tools are there in almost every household in their village, not many people use it anymore. They also found that very few people, most of them above 50 years, are engaged in farming,” said S. Jayakumar of Agri Friends Samskarika Vedi.