Children attending the Sunday Agricultural School
A vital cog in the transformation of human history, agriculture has always held the power to nurture and destroy empires. While a well-fed army and subjects contributed to the flourishment of a great civilization, a drought-prone and famished army and subjects have always brought in wars and civil strife. In the age of nation-states as well, this idea holds true. However, in recent decades, agriculture as we know it has taken a dramatic turn into a chemical-intensive and monoculture-centric mass production system. With climate change and pandemics tightening their grip on the world, food safety will be at risk in the near future. In this background, VOICE Trust turned to the changemakers who can bring lasting impact- our children.
" We are taught about chemical fertilizer, natural fertilizer, soil preparation and management, techniques of growing vegetables, planting preparation, pest management, and many more things. This has helped me to guide my parents with sustainable, effective and low-cost farming practices that do less harm to mother earth", says Darshini a young learner at the 'Sunday Agriculture School' that is conducted in the village of Maniyankurichi, Tiruchirapalli District, Tamil Nadu, India. She was happy to be a part of the school and has proudly perched herself in the front row, raising hands to ask doubts and to interact with the trainers like her fellow classmates.
" We are happy to see them progress and understand nuances of organic agriculture at a young age. This allows them to appreciate the practices without perception bias. Along with the technical knowledge of agriculture skills, we are teaching life skills which are self-awareness, empathy, critical thinking, creating thinking, decision making, problem-solving, effective communication, interpersonal relationship, coping with stress, and managing emotions. We are seeing wonderful results with our 35 young learners and are planning to take this initiative to the next level by recruiting local interns", says P Silambarasan, who manages the Ecology and Empowerment Program at VOICE Trust. A community-based learning method has been adopted wherein older women farmers and entrepreneurs are recruited as interns who support the initiative and help the children learn hands-on work.
The journey with these 35 little ones within the age group of 09-14 years wasn't easy. The pandemic and torrential rains had on many occasions played a spoilsport. But what could beat a child's will to learn something new? So they came in beaming with hope and pride, to learn the ways to craft a new and better world. Many thanks and love to all our donors.
They brought in fresh ideas and we were all ears!