Vermicomposting for building soil fertility

A.S. Ninawe

Vermi-biotechnology is an ecofriendly, socially sound and economically viable innovative type of technology to manage the organic waste resources on low capital input basis. This does not call for expensive laboratories or sophisticated industrial instruments. It has multiple benefits – can convert wastes into fertilizers; make soils healthy; can eliminate the dependence on chemicals; can bring waste-land under cultivation; create employment to millions of youth, can feed hungry citizens and can make a country green and prosperous in a span of just a few years.

A project is being implemented in Aligarh District of Uttar Pradesh in India, with the assistance of the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India. It is being implemented in five panchayat blocks namely Lodha, Jawa, Khair, Tappal and Dhanipur with the technical assistance of Dharma Samaj College, Aligarh.

 Building soil fertility

Prior to implementation, a farmer’s meet was organized for creating awareness on the production and application of vermiculture as well as taking up vermicomposting as an entreprise. More than hundred farmers of Aligarh District have applied vermicompost in their fields and are not only saving upto fifty per cent of chemical fertilizer but have also got 10-15% more yield. For example, a progressive farmer, Shri Asha Singh in Rajpur village of Tappal Block, is producing vermicompost in bulk and applying upto 50-60 mt per month for paddy and vegetable crops. According to the farmers, vermicompost is 4-5 times more effective than the conventional compost.

In the last four years, 284 compost units have been established for the benefit of SC/ST, women and farmers. The earthworms are being supplied free of cost to the farmers and the establishment cost of the Unit are being financed by the banking institutions. The cost of a single unit varies between US$ 75-250 and is affordable collectively by the farmers.

Vermicomposting as an enterprise

Vermicomposting is picking up as an enterprise, both at the individual as well as the group level. At an individual level, farmers are not only benefiting by the improvement of soil fertility through its application on land. They are producing more than required for their land and selling surplus to other farmers. For example, a progressive farmer of Khushal Gari village, Atrauli Block who owns a nursery of horticulture plants earned an income of around US$ 2500 through production and sale of earthworms and vermicompost, besides meeting his own nursery requirements. He also experimented the use of vermicompost in grafting of horticulture plants and observed an increase in the rooting of grafted plants.

As a group initiative, vermicomposting is being taken up at different levels. For example, in Barola Hagi village of Lodha block (about 20 kms away from the city), a cooperative society of SC/ST people having cattle, are managing a vermiculture unit with around more than hundred vermicompsting beds. Most of the vermicompost produced is being sold as they do not have much agricultural land for field application. They sell it in the local market or at a nearby town for US$ 50 per ton. The society which is actively associated in collecting and selling the vermicompost has earned more than US$ 5000 during the last two years.

Similarly, some of the enterprising graduate students have established their own units, enabling them to meet their contingency requirements. Realizing the success of this programme, rural banks of the district have come forward to associate themselves for the technology dissemination, encouraging more and more farmers to adopt vermicomposting.

Self help group approach is developing in a major way in vermicomposting. Village banking institutions are highly impressed with the micro-credit system established by the village communities. Good linkages have been developed in the village cluster for marking the worms and compost produced through self help groups. Trained beneficiaries are being financed for the establishment of vermicompost units and vermiculture to propagate the activity in the village at large scale.

 Looking into the future

Mass rearing and maintaining worm cultures and tapping of organic wastes for their maintenance has a good scope for developing it as a cottage industry in developing country like India. The effort is also to mitigate the ill effects of farming intensification and use of inorganic fertilizer and pesticides.

 A.S. Ninawe, Director, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Block – 2, C.G.O. Complex,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003. E-mail:


Recently Published Articles

Women-led farm initiatives

Women-led farm initiatives

By using organic farming methods, developing connections with markets, generating income, and enhancing their own...


Call for articles

Share your valuable experience too

Share This