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FSN Forum in Europe and Central Asiapart of the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition

Consultation
Open until:

A new deal for school gardening in Kyrgyzstan: developing a framework for a comprehensive policy approach

Kyrgyzstan is a low-income food deficit country [1] among 51 countries in the world with around 26 percent of the population living below the nationally defined poverty line [2].

Over the past decade, Kyrgyzstan has made significant progress in reducing both the prevalence of undernourishment from 9.7 percent to 6.4 percent, and that of child stunting from 18.1 percent to 12.9 percent [3]. However, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity increased significantly over the last few years, coexisting simultaneously. The levels of anaemia and deficiency of vitamin A in the population are high, above 35 percent and 30 percent, respectively [4]. In addition, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are increasing with 80 percent of all deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes [5].

To protect current and future school-age children from these the consequences of malnutrition, it is necessary to facilitate their access to healthy and balanced diet, allowing them to develop and grow well, to study and to have the energy for an active life.

Given the importance of school meals for ensuring the adequate nutrition of children, the Government adopted the Resolution No. 734 “On the main directions of development of school feeding in the Kyrgyz Republic”. The Resolution tasks the Ministry of Education and Science to take measures to improve the organization of school nutrition.

School feeding is also an integral part of the national policy based on the Law No. 111 of the Kyrgyz Republic "On school feeding in general education schools of the Kyrgyz Republic" under the patronage of the Ministry of Education and Science.

One way to improve access to school meals and diversifying diets can be to further develop school gardening. As of today, more than 65 percent of schools have school gardens. The food produced in school gardens (mostly fruits: apples, pears, apricots, cherries) are used by school canteens for meal preparation and can be partially marketed to allow generating additional income for food procurement or canteens maintenance.

In addition, school gardens can contribute to promoting environmental consciousness among children as well as help them develop a sense of ownership and responsibility.

In communities where agriculture has a leading economic role, school gardens help to promote and re-establish horticulture skills as well as to foster entrepreneurial skills in marketing the gardening produce.

School garden products can also help schoolchildren develop healthy eating habits, including through appropriate nutrition education.

There are however constraints that could undermine the sustainability of school gardens and limit the positive effect they can have on the nutrition of schoolchildren.

Among the challenges are issues related to securing funds for the setup and the maintenance of the gardens, lack of legal frameworks, questions of land ownership, operational modalities, child labour considerations and the inclusion of school gardening activities into educational curricula.

FAO promotes a comprehensive and food systems-based approach to school food and nutrition under the Project "Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition in selected countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia”, funded by the Russian Federation. Among the activities implemented in Kyrgyzstan, FAO established the Logistic Centre with a capacity of 250 tonnes to serve farmers and schools as a centralized procurement, storage, and quality control facility of agricultural products in the Kemin district.

In spring 2019, the FAO project also assisted the plantation of around 3000 apple trees in 15 schools in the Chui region of Kyrgyzstan. The apple trees will help schools to improve the diversity of school meals, while the school gardens will help students to acquire horticultural knowledge and demonstrate how to extend and improve a diet with homestead food production.

The purpose of this online consultation

The online consultation will help to explore the linkages between school meals, nutrition education and agricultural production. It initiates a dialogue on a new role of school gardens in Kyrgyzstan with an opportunity to learn from school gardening initiatives and activities that are already in place in Kyrgyzstan and other countries.

We would therefore like to invite you to reflect on the following questions:

  1. How do current policies and programmes define the role of school gardens in Kyrgyzstan?
  2. What should be the main role of school gardens? Should it be productive for supplementing school meals, educational with a focus on nutrition education, educational with a focus on agriculture, generating income for schools, or a combination?
  3. What are the key challenges in establishing and maintaining school gardens?
  4. What are the existing and perceived barriers in the policies and programmes, including in monitoring and evaluation frameworks that could prevent school gardens from performing their roles?
  5. What are your recommendations for identifying the appropriate roles of school gardens and to facilitate their efficient implementation?

We look forward to an interesting and fruitful dialogue!

Sincerely yours,

Nazgul Musaeva

Aitbek Ajibekov Kurmanbek Turdaliev

Senior Specialist of the Department of preschool, school and external education, Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic

Senior Specialist of the Department of farming development, seed production and organic agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Industry and Melioration of the Kyrgyz Republic FAO legal expert on school gardening

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[1] FAO. Low-Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDC) – List for 2018. Rome. www.fao.org/countryprofiles/lifdc/en

[2] National Statistical Committee, Poverty in Kyrgyzstan, 2017 http://www.stat.kg/media/publicationarchive/e6b6504b-fbdc-4699-9cf5-1f13d0eafaa1.pdf

[3] FAO, IFAD, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), WFP & World Health Organization (WHO). 2017. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017. Building Resilience for Peace and Food Security. Rome.  www.fao.org/3/a-I7695e.pdf

[4] FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. 2015. Addressing the social and economic burden of malnutrition through nutrition-sensitive agricultural and food policies in the region of Europe and Central Asia. Budapest. www.fao.org/3/a-mo398e.pdf 

[5] FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. 2015. Addressing the social and economic burden of malnutrition through nutrition-sensitive agricultural and food policies in the region of Europe and Central Asia. Budapest. www.fao.org/3/a-mo398e.pdf
WHO. 2014. Non-communicable diseases (NCD) Country Profiles [online]. Geneva, Switzerland. [Cited 31 December 2017]. www.who.int/nmh/countries/kgz_en.pdf

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