Sometimes, things take longer than you think they will. And then, they happen faster than you thought they could.
SwachaGraha Compost Connect (SGCC) is one such dream project conceived by Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT), Bengaluru, that will work towards connecting urban compost producers with rural farming community with the sole intention of sending the precious organic waste coming out of our kitchens and gardens back to the soil in the form of compost.
I am going goose-bumpy as I punch in these lines on my laptop: Yes, it is possible to mitigate agrarian crisis just by segregating your organic waste and then composting it. If you are already at it and have excess compost which you have no idea what to do with, join this campaign and see how you can help the farmers mitigate the ever-depressing agrarian crisis.
To know more, please read this post
Hungry for humus
It’s a dream of any passionate SWM activist: To send the priceless biomass back to the soil. But most often, we don’t know how. At SWMRT, all of us have come across situations wherein several volunteers spearheading composting initiatives in their apartments were seeking help to sell it. However, lack of connect with the farming community posed roadblocks and the conversation ended where it started.
Driven by passion and frenetic reflectiveness, SWMRT decided to create pathways in the most humble ways possible. But first, we needed to connect with potential buyers to take the campaign forward. For this, we sought help from noted activist Vasu of SOIL who instantly supplied us with the contacts of 10-12 farmers. And then, it just took off the ground!
In our first ever meeting of SGCC today, organic farmers from Kolar, Chinthamani, Mulabagilu, Ramanagara and Anekal came to the meeting with their heads buzzing with doubts and questions and hearts filled with hope. The enthusiasm the meeting generated laid bare one thing for sure: There’s a lot of hunger in this world. Soil’s hunger for humus is probably the least understood and the most neglected of them all!
“We get nothing in return”
N Dharmalingam from Mulabagilu said: “We have to work really hard to grow organic food. Most of the food items that reach Bengaluru come from Kolar, Chinthamani, Mulbagal, Ramanagar, Anekal and other surrounding farmlands. But we get nothing in return. Most often, not even deserving price for all the hard work we put in to growing healthy food for you.”
SGCC is all about reducing this urban-rural chasm.
Doubts and apprehensions
A farmer will lose a lot by applying substandard manure to his soil than those who sell it. So obviously, their main apprehensions included:
- Will there be heavy metal contamination in the compost which can damage my land irreparably?
- Will the cost per kg of compost be so high that it becomes unaffordable?
- Will the compost contain high quantities of weed seeds that it eventually becomes a labour-intensive exercise for us?
- Is there a possibility of selling our organic grocery, fruits and vegetable to a community and load up compost from the same spot on our way back?
While we had answers for almost all of their questions, what had us all perked up was the suggestion from a farmer from Ramanagara that they would be willing to sell neatly bagged organic produce to the same community and go back home in a vehicle loaded with compost. This added an entirely new dimension to the whole concept and all the involved are willing to figure out ways to make it happen.
A fantastic precedent
Purva Venezia located in Yelahanka has been selling its compost to farmers and the results have been so fabulous that farmers line up to buy the compost from this community. Says Padma Patil who has been instrumental in getting all the organic waste processed in her community: “One particular farmer who has bought compost from us regularly tells us that the size of the fruits grown in his farm is much bigger now and also the total output. He happily brings us bags of fresh fruits and vegetables as a token of appreciation. It feels so good to see him so happy.”
If dream has a sound, won’t it sound just like this?
The way forward
The concept will evolve as we move on. Somashekar from Kolar was of the view that “we should let it take off somewhere and then see how it goes instead of getting bogged down by all kinds of doubts”.
To make this happen, the farmers are ready to do field trials by using your compost in a small patch and then decide the future course of action. If yours is a community that’s ready to sell quality compost, then one of us from SWMRT will visit your apartment to study the method you have in place, the quality of segregation and of course, the compost. Once we are sure that yours is a sustainable method and NOT a 24-hour composter output, we will connect you to the farmers who are located close to your location. We are planning to create zone-wise groups with a roadmap neatly laid out.
To be decided
Price point, strategies to figure out the quality of the compost, frequency of pick-up are the most important matters to be discussed and decided in the forthcoming meetings. Write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with relevant details and contacts if you want to be included in this network.
Here’s a chance for you to take your meaningful initiative you are doing for your community miles further. Join in!