VERMICOMPOSTING
Vermicomposting
AMCHI found an annual increase in farming and cultivation costs as a result of rising cost of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and seeds. Each year, the soil required larger quantities of fertilizers and increased labour to prepare it for cultivation. Yet the produce was diminishing in quality. Farm soil had degraded due to continuous use of chemicals. To counter this problem, AMCHI began a vermi-composting project. Compost was made using cattle dung and earthworms. Women are comfortable working on the project as it requires raw material which is readily available at a small price and it does not demand much time. The project improved fertility of soil and provided a cost effective alternative to chemical fertilizers.

Initially this intervention commenced in four villages- Mohili, Tharapur, Chinchechapada and Nevra. It was then extended to seven more villages - Savroli, Tembuhurli, Kanva, Phophodi, Devdichapada, Pashtepada and Tikbaichapada. Vermi Composting is now being implemented in fifteen villages of Shahapur.

Women’s business groups are producing and marketing the vermi-compost manure and vermi-wash. Vermi-wash is an organic pesticide which increases the organism count in the soil on a macro level and micro level. These organisms are essential for healthy crop growth. 

Close to 140 women of 19 groups from 14 villages are involved in the project. On average, a group earns Rs. 10000 per month after production and sales hasstabilized

Volunteer: Participate in a session with women’s groups on marketing, financial management, communication with potential clients etc.

August 2011 - July 2012:
  • Vermicomposting was carried out in three villages; Mohili, Nevra and Chinchechapada with eight women’s groups.
  • The groups were trained in construction of the tanks, production of the vermi-compost and marketing. As an example, the groups were taken to a vermicompost project run by women in Gujarat.
August 2012 - September 2013:
  • A participatory survey in forty villages was undertaken on the availability of raw material, markets for the product and willingness of local women to work on the project
  • Results of the survey were positive. AMCHI saw this is as a tremendous opportunity to initiate vermicomposting businesses in these villages. Women’s business groups were formed to undertake the project
  • Visits to vermicomposting projects in other areas were conducted for each group.
  • Training on construction of tanks, production of vermicompost and marketing were organized for each group
  • Workshops were conducted for women to share success stories, best practices and challenges
  • Farmer Melavas were organised by women’s groups near the production units. Experts on organic farming and vermicompost were invited to interact with the farmers

WomenWomen's business groups promote organic farming through farmer's melavas
A low investment and less time requiring livelihood activity, vermin-compost, has made women of Shahapur Block capable of earning additional income. Around 15 women groups which are also called business groups, across 11 villages are managing 87 vermin-compost tanks on their own. They are actively involved at all the levels of the process right from the stage of preparing vermin compost tanks till packaging and marketing of the produced organic manure. With the active involvement of these business groups, Population First organized a series of farmer Melavas' in the month of April, 2013, to promote the vermin-compost manure and vermin-wash (pesticide) produced by them. The women running these business groups were pivotal in mobilizing the farmers from the adjoining villages, distributing pamphlets and posters promoting the organic manure and even in organizing the event.

WomenStalls were put up by the business groups displaying organic manure and vermi-wash. Small models of vermin-compost units were set up to explain the process of production of organic manure and vermin wash to the farmers. Samples of vermi-compost manure were distributed to the farmers during the interaction at the melava. Experts on the subject explained to the farmers the use organic manure and stated the benefits of using organic manure over chemical fertilizers. The farmers who have already used organic manure in their fields were invited to share their experience which was inspirational for other farmers. To explore convergence avenues with agriculture department, Agriculture Officer of Panchayat Samiti, Shahapur Block and his team were invited to attend these melavas. Orders to supply close to 39 quintals of organic manure were taken on the spot at Savroli, Kanva, Phophodi and Koshimbde village melavas in the month of April.

Responses:

"I have spent lot of money on chemical manure in the past and never knew about its ill-effects on the soil. Listening to the experts in the melava, made me realize how much I am spending to destroy my own soil! '' - Mr. Sanjay Vishe, Farmer (Attended Farmer Melava at Phophodi)

"I congratulate Population First not only for mobilizing women groups and equipping them to produce vermi-compost manure, but more for the fact that PF has played a vital role in promoting organic farming amongst the farmers. Now, I believe women can change the culture of farming." - Mr. Gholap, Extension Officer, Agriculture Department, Panchayat Samiti, Shahapur- Block

Marketing:
Population First identified seventy farm houses for promoting organic manure. A pamphlet in Marathi, Hindi and English were distributed to the local community and posters were displayed around the village. The groups were encouraged to use vermi-compost in their fields to demonstrate its effect to other farmers. Social Media is also being used to reach out to more and more people in urban areas.

Example: Sangeeta Mhaskar, from Mohili village has one acre of land. She has been growing rice and Mogra using chemical fertilizers to enhance soil fertility. Sangeeta and her Self Help Group members built 4 vermi-compost tanks and produced 13 quintals of vermi-compost. Sangeeta decided to use 5 quintals of vermi-compost for cultivation of mogra instead of chemical fertilizers. Vermi-compost not only increased the production of mogra by three kilos but also improved the quality of crop and soil.

Donate: Click here to contribute to this social cause by donating Rs 50,000/- for construction and maintenance of 1 unit consisting of 10 pits.