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Not the last straw for these enterprising students

11 February, 2018 4:50 PM
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They used four acres of barren land in Mangaluru to produce rice for college mid-day meals

Where there is land, there can be food. That is the motivation for students of a government degree college here, to take over barren fields at Konaje village and turn them into paddy fields.

Now, their ₹80,000 investment in the fields that lay ignored for up to 20 years has yielded one month’s supply of rice for the mid-day meal for poor students at college. Those meals will be served from February 14.

The five different plots totalling four acres had been abandoned by farmers and two were fallow for 20 years while the other three plots were not being used for six years.

The 250 students, most of whom are volunteers for the National Service Scheme (NSS) of P. Dayananda Pai and P. Satish Pai Government First Grade College, decided to launch paddy cultivation there.

They started on August 15, 2017 and at the end of January first week, got eight quintals of rice.

Naveen N. Konaje, Associate Professor and NSS programme coordinator at the college said the mid-day meal made with the rice would help about 300 students.

The college, located in the heart of the city, has about 1,700 students.

When the mid-day meal needs bolstering after mid-April, and the current academic year is completed, funds would be collected from donors to start again.

The first round of cultivation cost about ₹80,000. Mr. Konaje and his colleague Jephry Rodrigues, Assistant Professor and NSS programme coordinator, provided ₹50,000, of which ₹10,000 was refunded by the NSS fund. The balance of ₹30,000 was borne by Hasiru Sene a wing of the Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS). The fodder that was available after the harvest was given to a cow shelter.

It’s not going to be a one harvest revolution for the students. Mr. Konaje said that in the 2018 monsoon, the students would expand and grow paddy on about 10 acres. That would meet the rice requirement for the meals for poor students much longer. College principal Rajashekar Hebbar said the students planned to add horticulture too, growing vegetables in the next spell.

The students are being encouraged to grow vegetables in their homes as well, and 50 of them would get five brinjal saplings each.


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