One billion fruit trees, an initiative to mass produce saplings and donate them to responsible groups, promises to address food security.

A riot of saplings hugging each other with their perky heads peeking out of plastic packs draws one’s attention at the Girls Higher Secondary School, Nungambakkam. Get closer and you see the young plants enveloped in used milk sachet, wheat flour, chips, refined oil and other snack packets.

There are 2,800 in number and by next week the number will touch 10,000.

At a time when the Food Security Bill is a hot topic of debate, a team in the city is showing the way of promoting food security by planting fruit-bearing trees. The Indo-International Initiative for Billions of Fruit Trees and the National Green Corps (NGC), Chennai, has started a campaign called ‘One Billion Fruit Trees,’ where saplings are mass produced at a low cost with contribution from school students.

At the Nungambakkam campus, where the project was started two week ago, students stay back after school hours to fill the plastic packets brought from their houses with soil and a fruit-bearing seed. Students of classes III to IX take turn to nurture them. Once the saplings show signs of growth, they are given to other students and teachers who nurture them further. The rest are given to NGOs working in the field of environment protection. “We give the saplings to responsible players, thus ensuring they grow into fruit-bearing trees. One billion is a big target and this is the just the beginning. We wish to take it to other cities as well,” says Alagu Perumal Ramasamy, a professor with LIBA, who conceived the project.

NGC has identified 50 such corporation, government and aided schools who would be taking up similar initiative in the coming weeks.

“Some of the saplings can be nurtured in the school premises itself,” says G.Thangaraj, district coordinator, NGC. He adds, “We have decided to encourage schools giving gifts, certificates and sponsoring field trips.”

IIIBFT and NGC train teachers who in turn can guide students and the work will be supervised everyday. All these follow-ups and monitoring will be done free of cost. Interested government / aided / private schools may join with this movement.

For details, call Thangaraj at 9884023824.

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