Eighty-five vermicompost units of plastic nature have been set up by farmers registered under Gaondongrem-Cotigao Farmers Cooperative Society to produce organic compost and are still counting. Farmers are making use of organic compost on a large scale in comparison to chemical fertilizers.
A scheme implemented under National Horticulture Mission is finding favour with the farmers who have decided to use organic compost which is more preferred as it gives better yield in comparison to other fertilizers, many farmers in Canacona particularly in areas of Gaondongrem and Cotigao feel.
Zonal agriculture officer of Canacona Shivram Gaonkar informed that the size of one unit is usually 30 feet in length, 8 feet in breadth and 2 feet in depth. He said that a total of 90 vermicompost units of HDPE (plastic unit) vermibeds have been set up. These units are owned by 85 self-help groups in the two village panchayats areas. Gaonkar informed that the basic ingredients used in these units are cow dung, leaf moulds and earthworms of Eudrilus Eugeniae species are used.
Over 250 tonne of organic compost was produced last year which was sold out in the open market, and which has demand in comparison to chemical fertilizers. Per kg of vermicompost costs about Rs 10-12, informed Gaonkar.
The government has given licence to the cooperative society to carry out the process of selling the vermicompost, Gaonkar added. He said that the farmers have started packaging and sealing machines have already been purchased by the cooperative societies. The compost is priced at Rs 300 per bag of 20 kgs at the rate of Rs 10-12 per kg.
Gaonkar further said that Manthan SHG in Kuskem in Cotigao had on a trial basis used vermicompost for brinjals, chillies and cluster beans cultivation besides bottle gourd cultivation and the yield is three times more than that with common manures. The SHG produced about 500 kg of brinjals per week last rabi season.
He also informed that of the 85 SHGs under vegetable cultivation, during last rabi season, about 45 had opted for vermicompost and now this season, the target is to cover 45-50 SHGs to go for vermicompost for vegetable cultivation. Gaonkar also informed that Laxmi SHG used the vermicompost for chilli cultivation, in which case the yield was very good and the farmers under the SHGs have been encouraged to go for vermicompost instead of chemical fertilizers at least for vegetable cultivation, Gaonkar added. Seeing Laxmi SHG reap good benefits during the rabi season, at least 50 more SHGs are exclusively using organic compost for chilli cultivation, it is learnt.
Gaonkar also said that some sugarcane farmers seeing results of the use of vermicompost have shown interest on using it for sugarcane cultivation too. Gaonkar pointed out that the farmers can avail a subsidy of Rs 5,000 per unit for plastic vermi units while for the permanent vermicompost units, the subsidy is Rs 30,000 per unit. The plastic units has a life of just three years so many SHGs have shown interest in permanent structures where the vermi-wash can be collected and used which is the best nutrient for the growth of crops.
A progressive farmer Purso Velip from Poinguinnim could produce vegetables on a large scale last season using vermicompost, Gaonkar added.
Training was imparted to the farmers of different SHGs of Gaondongrem and Cotigao by ICAR, Old Goa and the technical know-how has been provided by Canacona ZAO staff.
Another progressive farmer Ajit Pai of Khavat, Poinguinim, Canacona has set up 18 vermicomposting units of 12 inch x 4 inch x 2 inches each and he gets 3000 kgs (3 tonne) per month and sells at Rs 10 per kg from which he gets income of about Rs 30,000 per month.
Pai tells that vermicomposting is a natural, odourless and aerobic process, much different from traditional composting. Earthworms ingest waste then excrete casts – dark, odourless, nutrient and organically rich, soil mud granules that make an excellent soil conditioner.
Earthworm casts are a ready-to-use fertilizer that can be used at a higher rate of application than compost, since nutrients are released at rates that growing plants prefer.
Vermicasting can be done on a small scale by home owners with household organic wastes, on a large-scale, with manure or by the food industry using organic wastes such as fruit and vegetable cull materials.
Through proper design, vermicasting is a method of waste handling that is clean, socially acceptable, with little to no odour, requires no energy input for aeration,
reduces the mass of waste by 30 per cent, produces a valuable vermicast byproduct, even generates worms as fishing bait handling turning organic wastes into casts takes 22-32 days, depending on density of waste and earthworm maturity (regular composting requires 30-40 days, followed by 3-4 months curing).
Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms, to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Vermicast, also called worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by an earthworm. These castings have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a higher saturation of nutrients than do organic materials before vermicomposting. Vermicast does not need curing, but fresh casts undergo 2 weeks of nitrification where ammonium transforms to nitrate, a form that plants can uptake.