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SHGs find vermicompost a lucrative trade

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HEAVY DEMAND: Women working at a vermicompost yard in Tirunelveli.
HEAVY DEMAND: Women working at a vermicompost yard in Tirunelveli.

P. Sudhakar

DRDA contemplating to sell it through fertilizer shops

TIRUNELVELI: A section of the self-help groups (SHGs) in the district, which nourish and improve the chemically poisoned soil through the vermicompost they prepare, have started getting attractive price for their product, thanks to the District Rural Development Agency's timely agreement with the Department of Horticulture, which buys it for distributing to the farmers along with other horticulture inputs.

After it was proved that, inorganic fertilizers and pesticides being extensively used to increase the yield would badly affect the crop and have its residual impact on the consumers, a good number of farmers have switched over to natural farming techniques. Interestingly, they got good price for their uncontaminated produce owing to the demand for the organic fruits and vegetables.

This is evident from the huge crowd gathering at the tri-weekly vegetable market being run by the natural farmers at St. Xavier's Cathedral at Palayamkottai.

Seizing this opportunity, some SHGs, which underwent extensive training under the supervision of experts, started producing vermicompost on a commercial basis in their villages.

When they could not find lucrative marketing opportunities, the DRDA came to the rescue of these SHGs through its agreement with the Department of Horticulture, which is aggressively propagating the advantages of employing organic manures in the farms.

As per the agreement, the DRDA, which recently procured 80 tonnes of vermicompost from DANWA Farm Women SHG, Vasudevanallur, Sri Azhagu Parvathiyamman Men's SHG, Surandai, Andal SHG, Thirukkurunkudi, Veera Vaanchi Men's SHG and Priyanka SHG, both from Puliyarai, Thentral SHG and Nisha SHG, both from Nambithoppu and DANWA Farm Women SHG for Rs. 3.20 lakh (Rs.4 per Kg) and sold it the Department of Horticulture with a slender profit.

This `buy back' arrangement and the good supportive price have encouraged more and more SHGs to enter the production of vermicompost in their villages.

The District Collector, G. Prakash, handed over the cheques, totally worth Rs. 3.20 lakh, to the SHGs who supplied vermicompost, in the presence of Project Officer, DRDA, F. Abdul Razick.

"To start their commercial venture, the SHGs can get subsidised loans under Swarnajayanthi Gram Swarozgar Yojana while the District Supplies and Marketing Sangam explores and provides excellent opportunities to the SHGs to market their produce (vermicompost) at a reasonable price," said DRDA sources.

When a men's SHG from Koodankulam exhibited vermicompost produced by them in the Sale of Articles of Rural Artisans' Society (SARAS) at Salem, recently, they sold one tonne of vermicompost within two days and were forced to come back to Tirunelveli to take with them another huge consignment. "It shows the quality of our product and the demand in the market for it," the sources added.

Impressed by the quality, the Department of Horticulture has again procured another 24 tonnes of SHG vermicomost on last Saturday.

Now, DRDA is contemplating the possibilities of selling this product through the fertilizer shops after packing it in attractive containers.

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