Lundazi students awarded for displaying hydroponics gardens at Agricultural Show
Zambia’s President Mr Hakainde Hichilema awards students for growing vegetables using locally sourced hydroponics systems
By Paul Ngosa Mboshya
Hydroponics impact at Lundazi Boarding Secondary School
The growing of vegetables using hydroponic systems in Zambia is gradually gaining momentum due to the collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), with support from H2Grow, a WFP hydroponics initiative leading the development of locally adaptable and affordable hydroponic solutions.
Hydroponics is a soil-less cultivation technique that uses 90 percent less water and 75 percent less space while producing crops at growth rates 100 percent faster than traditional agriculture.
By July 2022, WFP had established greenhouses in 71 schools countrywide, reaching 53,647 students through hydroponics gardens.
Zambia’s President Mr Hakainde Hichilema, at the country’s 94th Agricultural and Commercial Show held in August 2022, presented an award to Lundazi Boarding Secondary School students for being the Best School in the “Agriculture” category, demonstrating their knowledge of growing vegetables using locally sourced hydroponic systems.
Receiving the award, sixteen-year-old eleventh grader Chrispine Tembo said the award has boosted his confidence and has renewed his career ambitions of becoming a crop scientist.
“I felt great. The President acknowledged and appreciated the hydroponics gardens and urged the Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary to support such technology so that schools could produce more crops. The award gives me confidence because the Government appreciates this new technique of growing fresh vegetables,” Chrispine said.
“My fellow students and I participate in planting the vegetables in the hydroponic garden set up at our school, and I apply the agricultural science and chemistry I learn in class through the garden. I want to become a crop scientist in the future.”
WFP has trained 1,988 teachers and Government staff to enhance hydroponics adoption
In Zambia, the Ministry of Education uses the National Strategy on Home-Grown School Meals to contribute to improved nourishment, health and learning outcomes of learners and increased socio-economic empowerment of local communities by 2024.
To strengthen the implementation and sustainability of the Home-Grown School Meals Programme, WFP is leveraging innovative solutions like hydroponics gardens to diversify school diets, enhance nutrition knowledge, facilitate agricultural skills transfer and enhance incomes to meet the running costs of consumables for the gardens. Among the 1,998 teachers, community members and district staff trained by WFP to sustain and manage hydroponics gardens countrywide, 22 are from Lundazi district.
Lundazi Boarding Secondary School teacher Ndabaimbi Thole says: “WFP has trained five teachers from our school on how to grow vegetables in hydroponics gardens, from preparing seedlings and crop management to harvesting, and the safe use of pesticides. My fellow teachers have appreciated the continued support from WFP.”
“The hydroponic garden has helped the school provide fresh vegetables to 1,200 pupils. It also provided the school with additional income as people from the surrounding community came to buy surplus vegetables.”
H2Grow contributes to Zambia’s National Home-Grown School Meals strategy for schools
In July 2020, Zambia’s Ministry of Education launched the 2020–2024 National Home-Grown School Meals strategy, with WFP providing technical assistance in developing the strategy. The Ministry of Education seeks to feed two million school-going children by 2024, making it the largest food social safety net in the country. The Home-Grown School Meals Programme aims to support cross-sectoral benefits across education, agriculture and social protection as part of the national government priorities to attain middle income status by 2030.
Oggie Nedeljkovic, programme associate at WFP, Oggie Nedeljkovic says the hydroponics gardens are helping the Government to deliver equitable education and nourishment to the learners.
“Lundazi Boarding Secondary School is located in Zambia’s Eastern Province and has received one hydroponics garden out of the six established in the province. So far, we have reached 4,000 children with fresh vegetables,” Oggie explains.
“The hydroponics gardens diversify the school diets, helps in transferring agricultural skills and facilitating nutrition education among learners and is an alternative income source for schools.”
When school feeding and innovative solutions such as hydroponics are integrated, returns on human capital development can be maximised, leading to sustainable poverty reduction in the long term. Innovations such as hydroponics and sack farming also contribute to improved nutrition and incomes for schools, guaranteeing school gardens’ sustainability.
Oggie explains that WFP uses remote and field-based monitoring to track the progress of hydroponic school gardens countrywide.
“We physically monitor the progress monthly while we give immediate remote technical support almost daily or weekly whenever the schools need assistance through WhatsApp messenger, for instance.”
“To enhance the project’s sustainability, we have worked with the Ministry of Agriculture’s district extension officers trained by WFP, They offered their expertise to regularly address garden management issues that may arise,” Oggie says.
Through the collaboration between WFP and the Government, the hydroponics gardens have enhanced the implementation of the Home-Grown School Meals Programme, which has eased access to education and increased attendance and retention rates while improving the nutrition status of learners.”
Read more about WFP’s H2Grow innovation project.
The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and non-governmental organizations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support and WFP operations.