Vermiculture: The Agribusiness Venture That Doubles Up As A Waste Management System


Garbage heaps are becoming an eyesore in the city. Mountains of paper and plastic, rotting fruit, and vegetables dot our estates and roads putrefying the air as they decompose. We sit in our buses on our way home from work with faces glued to phone screens having nothing better to look beside piles of dirt and paper littering the streets. We are also trying to make ends meet, scouring the internet for sources of income to add on to what we already have.

Vermicomposting is a marriage of the two, cleaning up our environment while it makes you the extra cash. Vermiculture which is also known as vermicomposting is the process of using red worms to decompose organic waste into nutrient rich matter which is beneficial to the soil.

Nairobi has over 3.5 million residents majority of whom live in the slums. The increase in urbanization has put a strain on waste management and sanitation which pose a risk to our health.

Vermiculture is an inexpensive method of farming, requiring a startup capital of about one thousand shillings to acquire a kilo of worms. After that, you will need a box, in which you will lay a bedding consisting of moist newspaper strips and a warm, dark room which is necessary for breeding.

The worms will feed on paper, rotting leaves and other biodegradable waste. You should avoid waste from acidic foods such as oranges and lemons and meat and dairy as they are too complex to break down and might attract pests which will compromise the quality of your harvest.

It is important to keep adding bedding to your worm box when you notice the compost exceeds the bedding. This occurs after two weeks. It is also important to maintain the moisture levels by watering it regularly. The compost that is left after the worms have fed can be used as a substitute for synthetic fertilizers.

Your vermiculture should be ready for harvesting after four months and in order to prepare for this, one is advised to not feed the worms two weeks prior. Your harvest is the worms which will have bred over time. Harvesting can be done by dumping the contents of your bin and sifting through it to remove the worms which will move away from the topmost layer of the pile to the bottom. Removing the top layer will reveal the worms.

The yield is usually four times your initial input which translates to four kilos of worms.  This type of farming, however, can only be done on small scale making it suitable for urban dwellers, having been successfully implemented in Kibera.

By adopting this venture and doing it in your backyard you can reduce the amount of garbage you put out every day which will reduce the strain on our dumpsites which are already overflowing.

You can sell the worms to other farmers online market places such as mfarm and use the compost to grow a kitchen garden on your balcony in gunias effectively using the space around your home.

Additional information sources can be found here.

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