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Government Schools, Mid day Meals & Tragedies; Adopt True Spirit of Organic Agriculture - Interconnectedness of All Living Things that ‘Organic is Life’

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

Breakfast and Noon Meal schemes are a norm in Government schools and this at least ensures two whole meals for the kids. Are they substandard or cooked in unhygienic conditions in an issue which needs to be studied and analyzed separately.  Isn’t it fatal not to repeat mistakes committed and tragedies happened? Years after the Bihar tragedy, where 23 school children of Dharmasati-Gandaman Primary School in Bihar's Saran district died of insecticide poisoning after consuming food served under Mid Day Meal (MDM) Scheme. The government agencies seem to have forgotten the seriousness of banning hazardous chemicals that the tragedy raised. Children were   served food prepared in cooking oil that had been kept in a can of insecticide, which led to their excruciating death. A day back a Kilogram of lethal pesticide bottle was found from a sack of rice kept for preparing lunch in St. Mary’s LP School in Mathilakam, Kerala reports Matrhubhumi. 

Ilias K.P President, Organic Farming Association, Kerala says that earlier there were reports that the workers in FCI godowns also had health problems by using aluminum phosphide and Malathion. World Health Organization also categorizes Malathion as a glyphosate. A sample which was collected by Food safety officers in 2013 from Valiathura, Trivandrum, FCI had also undergone test in the analytical lab and it was supposed to contain Malathion. 

Ilias goes on reiterating the importance of Whole foods, organic foods and wholesome nutrition which is very essential in the growing period of the children. There should be mechanisms/policies in the government which ensures rice and vegetables to the school children from the local farmers. Ilias also mentions about the Hansalim Organic Co-operative model in South Korea. 

The growth of Hansalim has had a great impact on the development of organic agriculture and the growth of organic consumer cooperatives in South Korea. Its growth has been benchmarked by other cooperatives and today in Korea, four major organic cooperatives. Hansalim embodies the true spirit of organic agriculture – the interconnectedness of all living things – that “organic is life”. Direct sales between farmers and consumers have guaranteed a stable livelihood for the farmers and safe food to its consumers. What is unique about Hansalim is the so-called “direct sales movement between the rural and the urban areas” of organic food. Farmers sell directly to Hansalim through contract farming and get back 76% from the sales price as sales do not go through any middle persons (Jennifer Chang, Executive Director of IFOAM Asia).

All these models are approachable and doable until the government recalls the needs for having them incorporated into the systems. Experts need to visit and analyse and study and adapt Successful Models so that the priority lies in securing clean food for all. 

The Pest Control Operations with Aluminium Phosphide may be undertaken only by Govt. / Govt. undertakings / Govt. Organizations / pest control operators under the strict supervision of Govt. Experts or experts whose expertise is approved by the Plant Protection Advisor to Govt. of India. [RC decision circular F No. 14-11(2)-CIR-II (Vol. II) dated 21-09-1984 and G.S.R. 371(E) dated 20th may 1999]. The production, marketing and use of Aluminium Phosphide tube packs with a capacity of 10 and 20 tablets of 3 g each of Aluminium Phosphide are banned completely. (S.O.677 (E) dated 17th July, 2001. 

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