Children in Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is located in South Asia, at the eastern end of the Himalayas. Its landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to Himalayan heights in the north. The population is about 750,000.

Bhutan has had a school gardening program for the last 10 years and 38% of the country’s schools have participated. There are 553 schools from primary to the higher secondary level, and 315 of these have school feeding programs which were formerly supported by the World Food Program (WFP) and are now slowly being transferred to being sustained by government support. The school garden program has been run as a club activity typically involving 30-40 children per school or about 10% of the school population.

Agriculture has recently been approved as a part of the national curriculum and will be implemented by the Council for RNR Research of Bhutan (CoRRB) with technical support from the Department of Agriculture and other agencies, and will be piloted in 20 schools in the new academic year 2013.

The crops for the gardens are chosen in conjunction with local agricultural extension staff and seed is supplied by the central government. If the school does not have a feeding program, its garden produce is sold to teachers and the money is used to pay for treats like excursions and school picnics.

In schools with feeding programs the produce is sold to the contractor in charge of meals at a little below market rates to the use of the school vegetable produce in the schools. Schools are also asked to provide annual vegetable production records. There has been no evaluation of the nutritional impact of the gardening program.