Promotion & Development of Health Nutrition Garden (HNG)

In order to revive the whole concept of traditional approach of establish over 5346 HNGs were established and all of them had few plants in common, owing to their health benefits - Tulsi, Aloevera, Kalpanath, Bakas, Pathalchur, Lalparn and other herbal plants. Alongside promoting awareness on healthy food and nutrition, GPSVS’ PSPs and PSSs also educated the communities about food and nutrition management during disasters like floods. The traditional cultivation of Karmi Saag (Water Spinach) on river embankments and wet land areas is popularized, due to its rich iron content. Easily accessible during floods, this plant is of immense nutritive value for anemic children and pregnant women. Women from KMMs, CDMCs and PSSs are all informed about the wide variety of spinach (Saag) that grows in the locality - around 26 varieties and their health benefits are thoroughly documented and used as resource material in all training programs and interactions. With this awareness, community women are prepared to source appropriate food to suit the nutrition needs of their families. Consumption of dry food as a nutritious option during floods was explained and more than 10,000 women are engaged in preparing dry food items as instructed. This was a pressing need as severe acute malnutrition was highly prevalent among children, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating mothers[1]. Now that the communities understood food consumption, nutrition and managing them during floods, they were now introduced to the concept of health and nutrition gardens (HNGs) where households were encouraged to grow traditional, diverse food crops that met the nutritional needs of their members.

The project organized various events of awareness building and advised the community members for a preventive lifestyle for a healthy life. It guided them to use herbal plants for the treatment of various diseases and motivated them for an herbal garden at the household and village level. In most cases HNG has 10 to 20 crops/plants mostly nutrition (vegetables) and dual purpose (both nutritional and medicinal). But plants specific to specific medicinal purpose need to be incorporated more for quantity improvement and covering more diseases and ailments. The most found medical plants are Gurich, Neem, Patthalchoor, Tulsi, Vakas, along with trees like Mango, Mahogany, Guava, and arjuna. These plants are usable in 10-12 common diseases (Cough, fever, dysentery, gas, stone, hair-problem, skin, immunity, diabetes, nutrition, anti-biotic, and others.

Most of the HNG have obvious greater proportion of nutrition linked vegetable composition than health and dual purpose one. The diversity is limited as compared to rich culture of Mithila region. The approach of HNG is now well accepted as family source to tackle both nutrition and medicinal need of family, friends, and relatives. The diversity, number and seasonal variations may not be sufficient to relay on availability of medicines. Thus, there is a need to further standardize the concept in term of the compositions and quantity of the garden. There are some specific plants which are not common, but specific to few HNGs only, this gives opportunities to identify such plants and make them common in the area for the benefit of wider community, for examples Sinduri, Giloy, Tekhur.

overcoming hunger and malnutrition. Cultivation of these crops by gardening in a systematic manner in small pieces of land available in households is known as “Nutrition Garden”. The nutrition garden ensures access to a healthy diet with adequate macro and micronutrients at doorstep. By following these strategies, GPSVS has successfully demonstrated how health and nutrition can be promoted as community values through participatory learning and, simultaneously ensure food security.