Rekha, a 16 year old girl hails from a farming family of Kurze village, Thane district. She is a dynamic student of Kurze School as she is among the few students who are deeply interested, both in academics, extra curriculum activities. She is interested in innovating things and learning a variety of skills beyond the mainstream. Her prudence drove her to pursue Multi Skill Foundation Course (MSFC) and motivated her to try hydroponic fodder as a sustainable solution for pasture crisis.
Rekha Says: “Now, I am in the 10th grade. I had opted for the MSFC in the 8th grade. I feel, I got a life changing experiences in the past three years. I found it interesting to engage with skill training trainers during class hours, MSFC practicals were not as easy as they appeared. I come across multiple challenges while performing them, but got immediate solutions from the instructors whenever I asked for the help. Believe me, this is the only class where all my queries have been answered. I must say that, this has always kept me inspired to try new things and think beyond the four walls of the classroom. “
During the span of three years, she wisely blended the mainstream subjects with the Multi Skill Foundation Course which included educational modules based on; Workshop & Engineering Techniques; Energy & Environment; Personal Health & Hygiene; Gardening, Nursery & Agriculture Techniques. Gradually, she realized that her heart and mind lie in the agrarian sector. Her realization led her to build essential skills-set in agricultural techniques. She learned hydroponic techniques and produced fodder under the supervision of her trainer.
When asked, ‘‘why fodder?’’ Rekha explained, “Until the middle of February, one can see lush greenery around. But, as the summer progresses, the cattle do not get green grass easily. I belong to a farmer’s family, we have two cows and two goats at my place. It is difficult to collect green fodder in summer and lack of it has adverse effects on milk production. To avoid this, my mother and I leave early in the morning and gather fodder for our cattle from the nearby forests. Not only ours’, this is the story of every woman in my village”. She continues, “Alas! I never ever thought of an alternative for fodder. However, I got an opportunity to think and broaden my perspective towards agricultural techniques and realized that solution lies in Multi Skill laboratory in my school.”
Rekha elaborates further “I soaked the wheat grains and waited until they sprouted. Further, I spread the cocopeat culture on a plastic petri-tray for further growth. My experiment worked well and I was very excited to witness the entire process of fodder growth.”
Although, Rekha is aware of the traditional cultivation process, she realized that this particular cultivation process was unique. While sharing her experience she says, “The process helped me gauge the importance of pragmatic methods like this. It helped me discover the multiple merits that hydroponic fodder offers higher nutritional value, decreases water requirement, lowers feed cost, use of fertilizers and chemicals, and provides year round production in a limited space. Rekha says, she wants to explore more such options in the agriculture sector, hence I am thinking of pursuing my further education in the agriculture sector.”
Rekha added that she would love to perform such experiments in her village. It may inspire other villagers to adapt hydroponic fodder as an alternative solution to the issue of fodder availability that is widespread in her area.
The writer, Rohini is associated with Lend A Hand India and witnessed its impact on students life. She deeply believes in the power of skill education at higher secondary school level to foster transformation in education system.