Three years since its inception, Samtse’s first and the only vermicomposting unit in Norbugang (Chengmari) gewog is doing well.

The project, set on a couple’s farm at Bhimtar in December 2013, uses earthworms to make organic waste into high-quality compost. It is the final product of the breakdown of organic constituents by earthworms.

In the last six months, the couple managed to sell nine metric tonnes (MT) of vermicompost and fetched more than Nu 200,000. A kilogram (kg) of vermicompost costs Nu 25 at Bhimtar.

In 2016, it fetched about Nu 275,000 from selling 11MT. About 35 metric tonnes of compost was sold between December 2013 and June 2017.

The owner of the compost, Dibya Gurung, said they get orders from all places.

The dzongkhag’s assistant agriculture officer (ADAO), Kinzang Chophel, initiated the plan to set up the compost plant with some support from the national organic program.

Vermicompost is made by mixing dung and banana stems. The mixture is laid as bed inside the compost house for earthworms to feed. The worms breakdown the mixture to form the vermicompost. The process requires moist temperature.

Initially, a kg of red earthworms (Eisenia foetida) was raised in a nursery. In a month, the nursery produced 10 kg, which was then used for the project.

Dibya Gurung said that it took the worms 28 days to feed on the organic wastes in the current setting of the compost house. The couple said they are grateful to Kinzang Chophel.

ADAO Kinzang Chophel said he got the vermicompost idea from Youtube. “I started researching about it.”

He said he arranged a meeting with farmers’ groups in Samtse to a construct the vermicompost plant but since they showed little interest, he suggested Dibya Gurung and her husband to take it up.

After series of researches, proposals, and discussions, Kinzang Chophel managed to avail about Nu 120,000 to upgrade the unit.

“A lot of patience is required since the worms are delicate,” Kinzang Chophel said.

He said that when agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji visited the area and learnt that he initiated a project and could not complete it, the minister cancelled his transfer order and allowed him to complete the project.

The ADAO was also awarded a certificate of recognition and recognised as the “Most Valued Employee” by the agriculture department.

Rajesh Rai |  Norbugang