Urban Farming Microgreens: One of the Solutions to Prevent Stunting
Stunting is a chronic nutritional problem caused by poor nutrient intake over a long period, leading to impaired growth in children. Stunting is typically characterized by symptoms such as a child's face appearing younger than their age, delayed body and dental growth, poor focus and memory abilities, delayed puberty, lower weight compared to peers, and, around the ages of 8-10, children tend to be more withdrawn and have limited eye contact with people around them. The most noticeable aspect of a stunted child is their inhibited growth, like height, which does not match the average height of their peers.
In Indonesia, the stunting rate in 2021 reached 24.4%, according to the report from the Indonesian Nutrition Status Study. This rate is a cumulative figure for stunting in different age groups, with 6% in children aged 36-47 months, 5.6% in children aged 24-35 months, 4.5% in children aged 48-59 months, 3.6% in children aged 18-23 months, 2.3% in children aged 12-17 months, 1.6% in children aged 6-11 months, and 0.7% in children aged 0-5 months.
The primary cause of stunting is prolonged poor nutrition, which can start during pregnancy. This can occur if the mother does not receive adequate nutrition, which can affect the baby's nutrition in the womb. The child's post-birth eating habits also contribute to stunting, as an imbalanced diet can impede their growth. The health and care of the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding are also contributing factors to childhood stunting. The Indonesian government is continuously working to reduce the incidence of stunting in children. The critical period for stunting prevention is during the first 24 months of a child's life. According to President Jokowi, to prevent stunting during this time, children should be given natural foods to avoid stunting.
Urban Farming Microgreens
Urban farming is agriculture carried out in urban areas or for young farmers with limited land. Currently, urban farming has been widely adopted because many people are aware of a healthy lifestyle. Microgreens are one of the methods of urban farming that young farmers can do at home. Microgreens are young, tender plants that can be harvested as seedlings and are also edible. Microgreens are harvested as the very young, first true leaves of plants. Some plants that can be used as microgreens include carrots, celery, basil, spinach, radishes, beets, broccoli, cilantro, sorghum, onions, cabbage, basil, and parsley. Microgreens contain a high amount of minerals, vitamins, and beta-carotene compared to the mature vegetables. They also have the highest enzyme content, are rich in protein, high in fiber, and low in calories. Therefore, many people prefer and choose microgreens for both gardening and a food source at home.
Microgreens require sufficient sunlight to grow, but not direct sunlight. The ideal temperature for microgreens is around 24-29 degrees Celsius. Microgreens will not grow if the temperature falls outside of this range. Young farmers also need to pay attention to the planting medium, where soil moisture is a crucial factor, typically around 50%. Microgreens won't thrive in soil that is too wet or too dry. Young farmers should also weed around the plants to prevent growth interference. Microgreens typically reach a height of about 10-13 cm. Besides growing microgreens in soil, young farmers can also cultivate microgreens using hydroponic methods with aggregates and rockwool as the growing medium.
To grow microgreens at home, young farmers can follow these steps. First, prepare a container like a used can or a plastic water bottle with holes in the bottom to prevent water from pooling. Fill it with planting media, such as composted leaves, level it out, and water to make it moist. Then, evenly sprinkle the seeds, cover with plastic, and place in a dark location for 4 days. Once the seeds start to sprout, move them to a well-lit area. Don't forget to maintain moisture by misting at least once a day. Microgreens can be harvested in 7-14 days when the first true leaves appear.
Urban Farming Microgreens for Preventing Stunting
Urban farming, as one of the steps that can help prevent stunting from home, involves the use of microgreens. Microgreens, which are small vegetables, are rich in vitamins and minerals and are beneficial for maintaining health and preventing stunting. Microgreens are also plants that have high nutritional content and are a source of essential micro-nutrients such as zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe), which are crucial for preventing stunting due to malnutrition.
Microgreens contain various vitamins like vitamin A, C, and K, as well as minerals and nutrients such as zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Stunting prevention can be achieved by including microgreens in the diets of pregnant women and children. Children who experience stunting are usually do to nutritional deficiencies, one of which is iron deficiency. Inadequate iron levels can significantly affect a child's growth, leading to suboptimal growth due to the lack of these vitamins and minerals. Nutrients, vitamins, and minerals can be obtained from vegetables, and microgreens are an excellent method to achieve this. (Nisa)