Mangaluru, Feb 15, 2018: It was a celebration at the Dr P Dayananda Pai and P Satish Pai Government First Grade College on Car Street in Mangaluru on Feb 14, Wednesday at the launch of the mid-day meal. What makes the meal special is that it will be prepared from the rice cultivated by the students on four acres of land at Konaje on the outskirts of Mangaluru.
The happiness was visible on the faces of NSS volunteers and students who had toiled on the paddy fields. They harvested eight-and-a-half quintals of rice, which would ensure mid-day meals for a month. The college has contacted a few donors who have promised to fund the meals for the rest of the year.
The idea of cultivating paddy on fields that were left fallow for over 20 years, began on August 15, 2017. NSS students and other college mates took it up as part of the NSS activities.
Under the guidance of lecturers, Guddapalu residents and Manohar Shetty of Raitha Sangha, the stdents, as part of the special NSS camp from December 28 to January 3, harvested and threshed the paddy they cultivated. They took up watering, weeding and spraying insecticides every Sunday.
The first round of cultivation cost about Rs 80,000. Assistant professor and NSS programme coordinators Dr Naveen Konaje and his colleague Jeffry Rodrigues provided Rs 50,000, of which Rs 10,000 was refunded by the NSS fund. The remaining Rs 30,000 was borne by Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha Hasiru Sene.
Dr Konaje said, “Next year we plan to grow paddy on at least 10 acres, which would further help expand the mid-day meal programme.”
“After becoming aware of the farmer’s hard work, students have stopped wasting food,” said Dr Konaje.
Swapna, one of the volunteers, said she was very excited about working in the field. “A majority of us did not have any knowledge. After the harvest, when we visited the village, the villagers respected us for our hard work.”
Principal Prof Rajashekar Hebbar said the mid-day meals will benefit 250 students, comprising 200 NSS students and 50 poor students. “The college wants to serve mid-day meals to all the children in the future.”
At the launch of the mid-day meals, the students were served ganji (gruel) and chutney.
“The menu will be changed daily. Ganji will be served with palya or gasi. The college will collect Rs 5 from the students as maintenance charge. The amount would be used for buying vegetables and for LPG charges.”
The utensils were donated by the college staff while the PTA donated gas stoves. Now, the college has vessels for cooking meals for around 300 students, said Dr Konaje.