August 2018: The Goa Chapter.
From a young age, I have been helping my mother with her Anganwadi project, to improve the Anganwadis (public preschools) in all ways. The biggest issue is the presence of malnutrition, and to help those 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 children suffering for anaemia, I thought I would use the Anganwadi system to spread the Moringa trees.
I was inspired by the Incredible Edible movement, a community that started in the UK and encouraged the community to get together to plant edible trees in public spaces. This method of planting trees was the most efficient and would have the biggest impact on society as it would allow everyone from the community to consume all parts of the tree.
To begin the process, we presented our idea to the officers and director of the Women & Child Department of Goa. This presentation included a brief introduction to Moringa as a plant (only brief as many Goans know
Moringa), the numerous benefits, the current uses and a brief introduction to our idea of seed bombs and planting in Goan Anganwadis. Mom and I presented it together due to the language and accent barrier that existed when I attempted to carry out the presentation. The WCD minister and CDPO (district officers) were extremely thrilled with our presentation and were all enthusiastically discussing how they wanted to bring it to their district. They were on board for the seed bomb idea, despite it being a new concept. The director even promised that he would give out 1000, and 500 rupee prizes along with the cloth bag. The CDPOs gave me their numbers and I was incharge of creating a Whatsapp group.
Seed Bomb Production & Sapling Transportation:
Based on our research, we concluded that the best way to spread Moringa in a sustainable and efficient manner would be through seed bombs. Using locally sourced soil, vermiculite and Moringa seeds sourced from Tamil Nadu. We carried out a trial session at our house in order to see if the seed bombs would work. A team from a local YouTube channel called, “d’ArtofScience” came to shoot a short documentary about the process of creating the seed bombs. When mixing the soil for the seed bombs, he used soil and only one fifth of that quantity of vermiculite. Apart from being an additive to nourish the soil, the vermiculite helps keep the pigs and other animals away. We were encouraged to take a small lump of the mixed soil, place the seed inside and then roll it up into a ball. Once we got used to the repetitive pattern, we produced more, and by the end of the evening we made over 2000 seed bombs.
After creating the Whatsapp group with the district coordinators, I was able to get the estimated demand of seed bombs and saplings from each CDPO and the delivery address that they found the most convenient. By sharing the information with a local sapling source and with the people who were storing our seed bombs, we have been able to successfully transport the seed bombs and saplings. There has been a demand of over 8,000 more seed bombs from the locals that will be produced and supplied by others with some coordination intervention from me. The Moringa plants are being planted and have started to sprout, all the villagers and Anganwadi teachers are thrilled with the work we are doing and are ready for more.
In conclusion, this project was in aid of not only growing Moringa, a plant which is native to India, but it was also an attempt to open another chapter of Incredible Edible. As a leader of IncEdSG, one of my goals was to expand the program locally (partner with local schools) and internationally (India). This summer I was able to work on one aspect successfully. This is an ongoing project and with the help of the locally community and government we will be able to make a difference.