Published: 31st August 2019
This Horticulture Training Centre in Bengaluru serves as a lifeline to many diffabled youngsters. Here's how
If you are born with a physical disability then it is no big harm. The Association of People With Disability is here to provide you platform to learn horticultural and other skills and get employment
Self learning: Trainees work their hands in the garden at APD Center (Pic: Sriram B N)
With a spurt in horticulture's popularity, many youngsters come from remote areas, especially from the North Karnataka region, to get trained here. But there is a rather stringent selection process that they follow. Basavaraja says, "We work with different stakeholders including NGOs,
Practical classes: C B Suresh is polio-afflicted and has been working as a trainer in APD for over two decades now
Training personnel at APD have categorised the Horticultural Training course into two types. While the first one is meant to train in Garden Supervising, the second one is to create Garden Specialists. Not all the candidates are trained in both the courses. They are segregated based on their respective educational qualifications. While youngsters who have passed Class X can pursue either the Garden Supervisor course or Garden Specialist course based on their preference, people who are illiterate or have not passed Class X can only pursue the Garden Specialist course. A Garden Supervisor's work is to plan the landscaping for home or office gardens. Meanwhile, a Garden Specialist is taught to monitor the health of plants, learn different methods of planting and repotting, etc. Currently, 53 people are pursuing this training in Bengaluru.
Benefits of developing ‘green skills’
Explaining the benefits of undertaking training in this field, Basavaraja says, "The training for this particular programme is undertaken in lush greenery, so it is a treat for anyone's eyes. People will enjoy learning here. Apart from this, horticultural activities will help the trainees develop better eye-hand coordination."
So what do they learn?
The trainees are taught to grow everything from flowers to vegetables and ornamental plants. They are taught leaf cutting, plant transplantation, de-weeding, watering, preparing organic compost, common and pruning, and even the scientific names of plants. "Since we deal with people having all kinds of physical disabilities, including mute and deaf students, we have specialised faculty who can teach them the names of plants and vegetables in sign language. It takes time for the students to learn because they would not have learnt the common sign language in rural areas. Another thing is, everyone is not physically strong to undertake all gardening activities, even if they may want to. In such cases, we make sure that two people work together on one activity, to make it less daunting. We also grow all kinds of native flowers like rose, jasmine, chrysanthemums, ornamental flowers, vegetables like chilli, tomato, greens and much more. We have even created a special greenhouse to grow orchids – our students find this particular plant very interesting," says Basavaraja who wants to involve disable women also in this programme in a few years. Currently, the programme is meant only for men.
The Orchids: The APD Center has a seperate green house for Orchid flowers which was donated by a corporate company under CSR activity
Teaching youngsters to be self-reliant
Basavaraja and the group of people in APD not only believe in making youngsters job-ready, but they teach them to be self-reliant as well. "We teach students to cook for themselves, clean their laundry and also make their bed. Once they get a job, they will shift to new places and we believe that they should be independent and not depend on anyone," he says.
APD in the beginning
Initially, the Horticultural Training Centre was started in a one-acre piece of land in the garden city's Jeevan Bhima Nagar. The first batch of students also graduated from this centre in 1988. It included a huge garden, rooms for accommodation and the APD office. Now, it is a full-fledged horticultural centre where students implement their skills practically, grow plants and sell them to the public. Basavaraja explains, "As and when the course became popular, a large number of people started coming in, wanting to join us. This centre at Jeevan Bhima Nagar became too small to accommodate people. It led us to start a new training centre in Kylasanahalli. The journey was not easy for us. We requested the Government of Karnataka to allocate five acres of land several times and finally got it allotted in 2003. Meanwhile, we raised funds and some people donated money for the construction of the building. In 2004, the construction of the new centre was completed and it was inaugurated in 2006. Keeping sustainability in mind, we have even introduced solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system and we are in the process of installing a water treatment plant very soon."
Eco-friendly: For the first time, the trainees at APD have tried their hands on the plantable seed clay Ganesha which will be kept for sale
Every year, APD's horticultural training centre conducts annual fairs, which draws a large crowd. The public can visit and buy a variety of plants, manure and everything that is required for setting up a garden. Basavaraja adds that there is a huge public demand for the plants. But most of the times, the products outnumber the demands. Hence they have come up with a few plans to train more disabled people in their Horticultural Training Centre in the future. In the coming years, they plan to train over 10,000 people in Karnataka.
What about the jobs?
With Bengaluru being the garden city and other metro cities including Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai also adopting terrace gardening and other contemporary methods, there are ample job opportunities available for the trainees. But APD team wants to create the same number of opportunities even in the Tier II and III cities for their students. Basavaraja says, "There are many people who were trained at APD and worked in corporate companies. They earned and saved enough money to buy a piece of land and develop it into a farm. Some have even created nurseries, thereby generating jobs for people just like them," he concludes.
Some of the important events in the history of APD
N S Hema, a visionary founder of Association of People with Disability who was wheelchair-bound put forth her idea at the age of 17 to start an organisation for many people like her and dreamt of an equal world
Initially, the group was registered with a name called Association of the Physically Handicapped (APH) under the Mysore Societies Registration Act on May 20, 1959
While the organisation was initially started in a small room in Bengaluru's Malleshwaram, it was shifted to Lingarajapuramin 1960 when V T Padmanabhan, an eminent industrialist gifted 2 acres of land to the founder. Currently APD has its centres in Vijayapura , Davanagere, Kolar and Bengaluru Urban
APD has established its presence in Gadag, Koppal, Haveri, Davanagere, Bagalkot, Belgaum, Chitradurga, Ramanagara, Chamarajanagar and Dakshina Kannada via partners
During the 1990-2000-decade, significant changes happened in APH and the disability sector. APH was renamed to The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 1997. And, from dealing with a single disability, it evolved into a multi-disability organisation
On the completion of sixty years in May 2019, APD announced two signature programmes that will be launched in the next 5 years:
Elderly Rehabilitation programme will provide rehabilitation services to the elderly including therapy, counselling and capacity building of family/caregivers on management aspects, assistive and adaptive device support, and accessibility support
Institute of Disability, Research and Rehabilitation which is already in existence, aims to be an institute of excellence in the area of academics and research on disability. The vision is to train people in Rehabilitation, Disability prevention and Management as well as Capacity Building