A counter for sale of fresh manure has started functioning at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo
Animal droppings, it turns out, is good business.
Since Tuesday morning, a sales counter of sorts has opened at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo office where sacks of fresh manure collected from the premises are handed over in bulk to customers who include amateur horticulturalists, farmers, and even institutes such as the Jawaharlal Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute.
Commercial benefits aside, the city zoo has thus developed a strategy that effectively cuts down on the copious amounts of waste generated here.
The manure sold so far is of two types – one is essentially a mix of garden debris, a result at the end of three days of mixing dried leaves with water. This is sold for Rs.5.50 per kg. Customers are mostly drawn to the other kind, a mash of deer pellets that have been reduced to a fine powder that costs Rs.6.60 per kg.
The inspiration to sell the abundance of organic waste seems to have come on the heels of the launch of a vermicomposting project in December last year.
The rectangular pits will also be ready to yield compost within a week or two. Worms were purchased from Kerala Agricultural University, and the organic waste that was filled to the brim during the start of the process in December has come down to half the level, indicating the breakdown into fine compost material.
The zoo authorities are waiting for price fixation by the Revenue Department but estimate it to be sold at Rs.10 a kg.
One of the main reasons why people have been making a beeline for the zoo’s product is because of its quality – in terms of being nutrient-rich and removed of plastic and other chemical substances, a zoo official said.
The clientele comprises a large number of city residents who have taken up terrace cultivation of vegetables in their houses.
One such horticulturalist is Ajitha, a resident of Karamana, who rarely purchases vegetables from a store as she grows most at home. She read a news report about how the zoo had begun selling manure, and bought 15 kg of deer pellet manure and five of garden waste from here on Saturday. “I was hoping that I would also be able to make a slight contribution to the welfare of the animals here as well,” she said.
However, the proceeds of this activity are not fed into the zoo’s coffers and have to be deposited daily at the Revenue Department. The sale has been improving by the day, with manure worth for Rs.2,700 sold on Friday alone.
The zoo department also hopes to bring down a huge drain on its resources – a group that carts away waste from here at a cost of Rs.3,000 per day.