Organic farming on the rise with a new enterprise for women

Organic farming on the rise with a new enterprise for women
Organic farming on the rise with a new enterprise for women

July 2008;  Elephant jungle safari in Sauraha, one of the most popular tourist hubs of Chitwan National Park is a dream for visiting tourists. There are as many as 165 private and park elephants for jungle safari and other adventures like elephant polo which takes place once a year, with visitors coming from all around the world.

Sauraha however, suffers from the unmanaged waste of elephants. Each elephant produces 130 kgs of dung a day, resulting in 165 elephants producing 21.5 metric tonnes of dung a day. This is generally a nuisance and dumped in a place called 'Malkhad' to dry naturally. The dried dung is later burnt, emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

With the support of UNDP and Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme in partnership with an NGO-Pesticide Monitor Nepal'12 local women of the village have found a way of getting rid of this unmanaged waste by producing vermicompost from the elephant dung. These 12 women are responsible for the overall management of compost production at the community level which is giving rise to organic farming.

The semi-digested elephant dung is very good feed for vermis (earthworm) and produces vermicompost. The project trained these women on vermicompost techniques, and also constructed a vermicomposting shade house for the worm and compost production. The project partnered with some Users Committee at the local level to manage the worm shade house. 'It was a really slow process' recalls Prof. Dr. Ananda Shova Tamrakar, team leader of the Project, 'but the effort paid off in 45 days as one tonne of vermicompost was produced. One hundred kilos of elephant dung gives 60 kilos of organic manure. Within the next 8 months the worm population increased seven fold,' she added.

In May-June, the women sold 2 tonnes of vermicompost earning Rs. 24,000. After seeing the success of the initiative, 60 other women have also started vermicomposting in their own houses.The vermicompost shade house is a good learning place for visiting tourists also. The villagers feel that this initiative is a good start to replace chemical fertilizers and save the cost of importing the fertilizers.