: City residents seem to have reconciled themselves to the fact that the garbage generated in the household is their own responsibility. The city Corporation is also now promoting home-based garbage processing. The small amounts of waste generated in households can be easily processed within the compound. Many options are now available to city residents to treat the bio-degradable garbage generated in each house.

Segregation a must

“The first step is to induce a culture of waste segregation in the household itself. The waste can be turned into compost using modern methods. One apartment complex in the city has already started vegetable gardening on terrace, utilising the compost that they manufacture, by segregating and processing the waste using EM (Effective Microorganism) liquid culture,” said K. Prathapan, Director of the State Horticultural Mission.

He was speaking at a workshop on home-based waste management, organised by the Kerala Farm Journalists' Association and the Indian Agricultural Association here on Monday.

“Another 40 apartments in the city will soon follow suit and start the EM culture composting plus terrace farming model, to manage their garbage. The Horticultural Mission is joining hands with the Suchitwa Mission in popularising this project,” Dr. Prathapan said.

The workshop focussed on vermicomposting and EM culture composting as two effective methods by which residents can manage garbage on their premises. The third option was setting up a biogas plant, various models of which were available in the market now.

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting is one of the most effective, stink-free ways to manage biodegradable waste. The earthworms can digest even human hair and bird feathers in no time. Also, the compost thus generated, is high in nutrients and gives good yield when used for farming.

However, the whole process could be a failure if the technology was not used correctly, pointed out R.C. Sasidharan Nair, a former Joint Director of Agriculture.

The right method

“We have been popularising vermicomposting since 1997, but not a single project has succeeded so far because people are not taught the technology properly. One needs to use a fairly large container and the quantity of worms also matters,” Mr. Nair said.

A biogas plant, on the other hand, can handle not just solid wastes but also liquid waste from the kitchen.

However, at least a 1,000-litre capacity plant is needed for the proper treatment of the waste, without odour, it was pointed out. If the waste inside the plant has not been properly decomposed, then not only could a biogas plant stink, the slurry from it will have high acid content which cannot be used for farming purposes.

Pipe composting

D. Sreekumar, Health Officer of the city Corporation, said that the city Corporation was promoting various home-based waste management solutions, with subsidy. These included vermicomposting, ring composting, biogas plants as well as a novel method called pipe composting, which required very little space.

The Corporation intended to promote pipe composting in at least one lakh homes in the city, Dr. Sreekumar said.

Several models of vermicomposting units, including an indoor unit as well as good quality compost, were on display at the workshop.

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