Sanhá João Correia grew up on the island of Galinhas, in the Bijagos Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau. He grew up in two worlds: one embedded in Bijago knowledge and traditions; the other, in a Brazilian university, studying agronomy. Back in the archipelago, Sanhá now works with Inter Pares’ counterpart Tiniguena overseeing an innovative school garden and meals program.
As a founding member of the Civil Society Network for Food Sovereignty and Nutrition (RESSAN-GB), Tiniguena and allies succeeded in influencing national food procurement policies. In 2018, Tiniguena partnered with the World Food Program and other NGOs to launch a national school meals program. Rather than rely on imported food aid, the program sources fresh, ecologically grown vegetables from local farms. Tiniguena is working with 2,000 women farmers, who are providing 5,000 schoolchildren from 37 schools with fresh, organic vegetables. The program includes school gardens to supplement the school meal program and serve as outdoor classrooms for teaching biology, nutrition, and gardening.
In a country that has fallen prey to landgrabs, and where women’s access to land and to markets is a constant obstacle, this program shows great promise. The school meals program is improving child nutrition, building new skills in agroecology, and has created a secure market for women farmers. Should the pilot program be successful, it will be rolled out to schools across the country.
Sanhá is proud of the school gardens. Guided by his Indigenous culture, he is also applying new scientific teachings in agroecology, and transmitting this knowledge and passion to new generations.
Tiniguena is working with 2,000 women farmers, who are providing 5,000 schoolchildren with fresh, organic vegetables.