Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First announces Project: Greenhouse winners
The winning schools in this year’s Project: Greenhouse competition, an initiative of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar’s (WCM-Q) Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First campaign, have been announced.
This year, the school judged to have produced the most impressive crop of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs was Audio Education Complex for Girls. Second place was awarded to Seoud Bin AbdulRehman Elementary School for Boys, while Um Salal Mohammed Elementary School for Girls came third.
Project: Greenhouse has provided greenhouses, soil, seeds and plant pots to more than 130 schools across Qatar to help students learn about the environment, sustainability, food security, agriculture and the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Students have responded with enthusiasm, planting seeds and tending their crops diligently to produce bumper yields of cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines, zucchini, capsicum, cilantro, parsley and more.
That hard work was rewarded when WCM-Q representatives, joined by Ms. Fatima Al-Obaidly of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, visited the winning schools to present students with trophies recognizing their success.
Nesreen Al-Rifai, Chief Communications Officer at WCM-Q, said: “We are very happy to recognize the hard work and success of all of the children taking part in Project: Greenhouse – they have made us so proud. Their enthusiasm is what has made Project: Greenhouse such a success and has given us the opportunity to expand the scheme with the launch of the Khayr Qatarna brand that not only promotes healthy eating but also raises awareness of the importance of self-sufficiency and food security.”
Project: Greenhouse is supported by Sahtak Awalan’s strategic partners: Qatar Foundation, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Environment and Municipality, Occidental Petroleum, ExxonMobil, and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.
Grade 5 students Amina Ayman, Shaheeda Muhammad and Aisha Khalid were chosen to receive the trophy on behalf of their school, Audio Education Complex for Girls. Amina said: “We learned a lot about growing plants and it was really fun seeing them sprout and the taller plants like the tomatoes begin climbing up the walls of the greenhouse.”
Shaheeda said: “We discovered that you have to plan carefully and plant your seeds evenly. You can’t just throw them anywhere. And you have to give each different plant different amounts of water. We were really happy when they started to grow because we have learned that it’s important for Qatar to grow its own food.”
Aisha said: “The plants we grow don’t have chemicals added to them so they taste better.”
Project: Greenhouse recently expanded its scale and scope with a new initiative called ‘Khayr Qatarna’ which is promoting food security and self-sufficiency in Qatar and has installed three large-scale, hi-tech climate-controlled greenhouses at chosen schools. These greenhouses are being used to grow fruit and vegetables that the Ministry of Agriculture will then distribute through local supermarkets under the Khayr Qatarna brand. Students will continue to be involved and will be able to visit the greenhouses, learning more about food production and economics. Proceeds from the sale of the produce will be reinvested to expand the scheme further.
Ms. Fatima Al-Obaidly, the Head of Events and Activities Department at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education was in attendance to present the children with their trophy. She said: “We greatly appreciate our partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar, which has built greenhouses in Qatari schools to educate students about the healthy living and the importance of self-sufficiency and food security. School is the best place to shape students' habits and behaviors, so the greenhouse initiative has helped raise awareness. In addition, the students have begun growing fresh produce at home and have replaced fast food with healthy meals.”
She added: “We are very pleased to honor the students of Audio Education Complex for Girls for their great achievement. They won first place because they produced the best crop of tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum, mint, and more. We are also very happy that Project: Greenhouse has achieved great things by expanding from 15 schools in 2012 to 130 in 2018. This allows us to look forward to promoting the health of the younger generation to achieve the goals set out in Qatar National Vision 2030.”