Vermi-culture: an untapped economic prospect

Vermi-culture is rearing earthworms and similar worms that are used to create organic fertilizer

Vermi-culture is cultivation of earthworms that is used to create organic fertilizer. It is eco-friendly and free from chemical inputs and improves soil aeration, texture, and reduces soil compaction and promotes better root growth and nutrient absorption, amongst others. 

According to the National Soil Services Centre (NSSC), Department of Agriculture (DoA), currently, there are 12 organic fertilizer producers in the country producing different types of compost such as Vermi-compost, liquid fertilizer, bio-slurry compost, chicken manure, EM solution, which, there is no record of a dedicated Vermiculture in the country where worms are needed to make compost organic fertilizer. 

For instance, NSSC‘s annual report 2021-2022 states that the country produced 8130MT of organic fertilizers.

However, the very first kind of Vermi-culture in the country was constructed in Reserboo village under Mendrelgang  gewog in Tsirang. The farm Moktan Vermi-culture was constructed under the organic flagship program with a budget support of about Nu 0.3mn.

An official from NSSC said that though they provide worms to framers and interested youths but the country don’t have a dedicated nursery for Vermi-culture till now. “With the Vermi-culture in Tsirang, we are hopeful that the people will come forward with such similar interests.”  

The owner of the Moktan Vermi-culture, Phurba Moktan said that the farm is not yet initially inaugurated. “My farm is set be inaugurated in December this year, however, I have started to rare earthworms in my farm.”   

The farm owner said that the project was initiated with the help of Kinzang Chophel, Assistant Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer (ADAO) and currently her husband also helps in her farm. “The cultivation is very simple and side by side I can also do my garden works.”  

ADAO said, “Through an organic flagship program, we got support in Vermi-culture, group formation, registration of the farmers as an organic farming and one such support is given to Phurba Moktan to establish her Vermiculture farm.”

Kinzang Chophel said that he initiated the program and he wrote the proposal to the government on behalf of them, which, the organic flagship supported the farm in the financial year 2021-2022.

With the farm, Phurba said that she is confident that the farm will run smoothly as she only has to rare the worms. Currently the demand for worms in the market is very high as worms are one component used to produce organic manure.

The owner said, “Though the farm has not yet inaugurated but as we have already started to rare worms, am sure by next year we will be able to sell worms and even distribute to others,”

Similarly, the dzongkhag ADAO said, “To make organic fertilizer, currently, the farmers lacks earth worm but with this it is expected to overcome those challenges for the farmers as expect for earthworms, the cow dung is available in the village.”

 “Currently the farm was provided with 200 kilogram (Kg) of worms including about 8kg of imported worms which was provided by NSSC,” said the dzongkhag ADAO. 

According to the ADAO, the imported worms includes African tiger worms of about 4kg and similarly, about 4kg of American red wiggler worms and local red worm of Tsirang. “The numbers in the nursery farm will be doubled by next two to three.”

Further, Kinzang said that for the production and sales it will be possible by only next year as they have to rare and develop the worms in the nursery, which, it will be possible by only next year.  

Meanwhile, Phurba hopes that the Vermiculture will be effective and moreover a benefit to the local people who needs worms to produce organic fertilizer.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu