Learning to benefit from special plants

A special three-day learning programme was held last week as part of the ongoing project in Seychelles by the non-government organisation (NGO) Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles to conserve medicinal and traditional food plants. The learning programme is called Conservation of Traditional Food Crops in Home and School Gardens, and the venue was the Plant Genetic Resources Unit of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, at Grand Anse, Mahe. It was attended by about 30 leaders of Wildlife Clubs from Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette, and run by a team of expert local trainers.

Mr. Vidot showing his herbs garden © C Jameson 


Mr. Vidot explaining the traditional use of plants © C Jameson


Workshop group photo © C Jameson

The programme involved lectures and practical sessions, and activities in the field, including visits to the garden of well-known herbalist Mr Ferdinand Vidot, and the research station at Grand Anse. The club leaders were shown a wide range of food, herbal and medicinal crops under cultivation. The agenda also covered topics relating to the health and nutritional value of home-grown crops, ways of utilising and processing the produce of a home or school garden, and management of a school garden as a small-scale business enterprise.

‘We have a vision of a time in the future when not only schools but also all districts in Seychelles can have a garden like this,’ Mermedah Moustache, of the Plant Genetic Resources Unit, told the delegates. ‘The benefits that this will bring to schools, to children and to communities are obvious, if we can promote knowledge and understanding of how plants work, and how they can work for us, for our health, nutrition and general well-being. Gardening has therapeutic benefits on physical and emotional levels, and we believe that many children and adults can benefit in different ways from initiatives such as this.’

‘This project is vitally important to promote knowledge and understanding of the nutritional and health benefits of traditionally used plants in Seychelles,’ said Wildlife Clubs Coordinator Terence Vel. ‘What is great about this initiative is that it is covers economic, wildlife, health, cultural and historical aspects of life in Seychelles. The value it brings to our country and society is on so many different levels.’

The design of the programme is a joint effort by the Plant Genetic Resources Development Section of the Natural Resources Department, the National Consumers Forum (NATCOF) and the Wildlife Clubs Co-ordinator. The workshop was funded by the Consumers International Regional Office of Africa (CI ROAF) through its local office NATCOF. We would like to extend special thanks to the Ministry of Education and Culture for encouraging their teachers who are Wildlife Club leaders to participate in the workshop.

This Friday, October 28, at 10.30 am, Plaisance Secondary School are the latest to officially open their Special Plants Garden, to mark International Creole Day. The day will also be celebrated with other traditional activities in the school. The project has been coordinated by Lyndy Corgat, leader of the Vev Wildlife Club and Environment Representative at the School. It is wonderful to see the momentum of this project growing and spreading to new communities in Seychelles.

Nature Seychelles, published on Regar Newspaper, Seychelles, 27th October 2005.

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