Gurusharan Singh – Producing vermicompost manure since 2004
Engaged in producing and supplying vermicompost manure since 2004
The new instruction for fruit orchards from Agriculture Department across the county is to apply 10-15 kg vermicompost twice in a year as it safeguards the trees from the pest attack. “This has increased the demand of the product substantially. 10 kg vermicompost is as effective as 40 kg farm yard manure. It is a profitable business,” says Mr. Gurusharan Singh. He is running a vermicompost unit his village Taragarh, Gurdaspur district, Punjab. He shares the details on vermicompost production process, worms, cost and future prospects of the business. Excerpts:
We started commercial vermicompost unit in 2004 with the assistance of Nabard, ATMA and National Horticulture Mission. It is a flourishing business and the product is in high demand. I am unable to fulfill the demand of vermicompost with 3000 qunital annual production at my unit! This implies it has good prospects and budding entrepreneurs can join this amazing business.
The main raw material required for vermicompost is cow dung and farm waste. We source cow dung from all the nearby dairy farms. We keep the ratio of 60:40 of cow dung and farm waste in the composting bed. It is mandatory to dry the cow dung before filling it in the tank. Fresh cow dung has too much ammonia and methane that would kill all the worms in just 7-8 hours. Therefore after procuring fresh cow dung we spread in the yard for 20 days and turn it upside down 3-4 times to release the gas. Next water is sprinkled on it to subside the heat. Then after two days it is mixed with farm waste and spread on the bed. Lastly the worms are added.
To convert the waste mix into manure we use Eisenia Foetida worms (also known as red wrinkle). These are the best variety earthworms that are sturdy and adaptable to the change in temperature. Initially we also used African earthworm known as Eudrillus Euginiae but discontinued because it was unable to withstand extreme temperature during summer and winter. Hence we now stick to Eisenia Foetida worms in our vermicompost unit.
Usually the worms are resistant to the disease but are extremely susceptible to termites. 20-25 termites stick on one single worm and eat it full. Hence as preventive measure we spray herbal solutions on the bed to give a protective shield to the worms. In 10 liter water we mix 20 gram pure turmeric powder or squeeze 3-4 lemons (having high juice content) or mix one gram best quality asafoetida (called hing in hindi). Either of these solutions is sprayed on the bed every morning. It keeps the worm safe for termite attack and improves its’ life.
In addition, after adding the worms on the bed we put one green layer of any leafy crop and cover the entire bed meticulously with gunny bags. It further saves the worms from predators like crow and sparrow. Besides the crop layer and gunny bag cover creates darkness inside the bed thereby the worms are active for 24 hours else with little exposure to light, worms move deep inside the bed and come on the surface only during night time. This slows downs the process of conversion hence the measure to cover the bed is essential.
It takes 60-70 days for the entire process of cow dung conversion into manure. In 2-2.5 quintal cow dung we add 1kg worms (roughly around 1000 worms as 1 worm approximately weigh 1 gram). From this we get 60% manure in 2 months and rest 40% is the culture that is re-used in the next cycle. The vermicompost manure obtained has coarse texture that is sieved to make it in fine powder. If the farmers are producing and using the vermicompost in-house then there is no need for sieving. He can apply it on his field directly. However as we are selling it as manure, to add on to its selling price we have to sieve the compost into fine powdered manure.
Along with this basic vermicompost we also make another variant that is neem vermicompost. The make the later we mix the neem cake in the basic vermicompost. As neem is not grown in our region we source neem cake from Ghaziabad. The basic vermicompost is sold at Rs. 5-6/kg and neem vermicompost is sold at Rs. 6-7/kg. We make 1kg, 5kg and 50 kg bags of vermicompost manure.
The business can be started with the investment of minimum Rs. 1 lakh through the assistance of National Horticulture Mission. In this unit of 240 square feet is installed that would produce 100 quintal vermicompost annually. Worms are one time investment then it multiplies. Slowly it can be expanded after a year as the buyer network expands. It is a good business but the key to success is to find the buyers first and then get into production. If production is done without identifying the market then it could lead to the loss.
Along with vermicompost I also grow wheat, paddy and seasonal vegetable cultivation in open cultivation as well as in net house. Along with Nabard I have also started a NGO that works round the clock for the rural development in 8 districts across Punjab state.
In time to come I shall continue to expand the vemicompost production and also want to diversify into Bulgerian roses in open cultivation. I am into the business for more than 15 years and have consistently received the growth because I do my work with complete honesty. Anything done with commitment and honesty will always lead to steady success!
Mr. Gurusharan Singh
Taragarh, Tehsil Batalia, Gurdaspur district, Punjab
(As told to Mamatha S R)