The Philippines can learn a few smart lessons from Thailand when it comes to feeding undernourished school children. Instead of buying noodles as is the usual practice in the Philippines to feed school children, some 420 schools in rural areas in Thailand raise chickens on their own campuses so that the children can have fresh eggs as part of their daily lunch.
Aside from having a more healthy meal, the school children also learn early practical techniques in raising the chickens in a scientific way. They can later adopt the skills learned in putting up their own layer projects in their own homes.
We had the opportunity to visit one of the schools which are raising chickens for their eggs used in the lunch project that is being implemented by the Rural Lives Development Foundation financially supported by Charoen Pokphand Group, one of the big conglomerates in Thailand engaged in agricultural production and food processing.
The school which offers Grades 1 to 9 is the Ban Busoong School in the town of Prachinburi in the province of Krabinburi, about two hours drive from Bangkok towards the northeast. We were among the print and broadcast media practitioners who were invited on February 28 to March 6 to a tour of CP Foods’ CSR or corporate social responsibility projects in Thailand and Vietnam.
The tour was led by Dr. Pinij Kungvandij and Arnnop Jeanprasert of CP Foods Philippines that is currently putting up a feed business and pig and poultry projects in the Philippines.
At the Ban Busoong School, some 200 layers of the Isa Brown breed from France are being raised in cages in just a very small space right on the school campus. The birds produce an average of 170 eggs daily which become part of a lunch meal the children take at noon after classes.
Ban Busoong is one of the small schools under the program of the foundation. That is why only 200 layers are maintained in the school. In bigger schools, the layer population could run up to 500 hens.
The student lunch project is run like an honest-to-goodness businessby the school cooperative which was set up to oversee the day-to-day operations by the teachers, students and the board of education. The co-op buys the eggs and manages the school feeding fund deposited in the project’s bank account.
This is to maintain the sustainability of the project. Charoen Pokphand initially provided the chickens, the feeds and the vaccines to the school. At the same time, the technicians of CP Foods trained the students how to take care of the birds.
The school co-op receives privileges from the CP Food to make their operations more profitable. For instance, replacement birds are acquired at only 100 baht each instead of the 200 baht per bird in the market. Feeds are bought at only 10 baht per kilo instead of 15 baht in the regular poultry supply stores.
The Thai government is also providing some funds for the Lunch Project at 13 baht per student. This is managed by the co-op in the school. Under the Lunch project some 80,000 students are being provided with healthy meals during school days.
This is something worth copying by our government and well-meaning business companies who would like to support worthy causes as part of their corporate social responsibility.