Two high schools in Vietnam have trained their students to cultivate organic vegetables since September 2017, in a project supported by Seed to Table, a Japanese non-profit organization on farming.
Organic vegetables are produced in a way that tries to cycle resources, facilitate ecological balance and eschew pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Seed to Table has provided Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School and Luong The Vinh High School, both in Ben Tre Province, with necessary equipment, organic fertilizers, and safe seeds.
It has also regularly organized courses for the teachers and students with a view to transferring to them the technology of growing organic plants according to Japanese standards.
As a result, the schools have acquired fundamental knowledge and techniques in the new farming practice.
Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School has been able to create a buffer zone for many flowers and lemongrass – plants whose scent resembles that of lemons, which helps ward off unwanted insects.
The other institution has divided its schoolyard into three sections, and vegetables cultivated in one part are separated in time from those in another to prevent damage from insects.
After five months, the schools have many times harvested differing crops like water spinach, leaf mustard, lettuce and spring onions.
Amidst a general concern over contaminated food in Vietnam, such human-friendly products can fetch a high price.
“Our vegetables sell for VND20,000-30,000 [around US$1] per kilogram, a price twice that of ordinarily grown vegetables,” said Huynh Thi My Thuan, a teacher at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School.
“Many people have placed orders, but the vegetables are in short supply.”
The project by Seed to Table has brought about practical benefits, equipping students with a knowledge of organic agriculture and encouraging them to use it in their own gardens, according to Mai Hoang Nhi, vice-principal of Luong The Vinh High School.
May U Ino, chief representative of the Japanese not-for-profit in Vietnam, praised the students for their performance during the project, and said several more schools in the same province, Ben Tre, will also experiment with the organic farming this year.
The initiative finds its presence on campus after it was used as a tried-and-tested model by Vietnamese farmers in the province.