Converting Waste into Useful Manure – Students Driving Change for the BoP in India

We caught up with Saranya Buddhi, Founding member, of the E-cell at the Saveetha Engineering College and were amazed with the simple yet highly effective innovations the students are creating.

Q. Interesting initiative of a Vermi Compost, what made you think of this?

A. I started Vermi Compost 3 months back with zero budget collecting waste from the construction in our college, the garden and put it in the Vermi Compost adding liquid cow-dung to the same each day. And now we have a rich manure, which we are going to sell at 1KG for INR 50. We are teaching the poor to use this methodology for creating useful manure, while solving the problem of waste, increasing their standard of living.

Q. How long a period is required to convert the garden waste into usable manure?

A. It takes a minimum of 1.5-2 months.

Q. How replicable is this model for the urban areas? How do I go about starting a Vermi Compost?

A. Sure, its actually possible at every house in the city. You can use big flower pots, which are normally available at every house. You can not only use garden waste but also the kitchen waste (barring the plastics, which are non-decomposable). And its that easy!

Q. Any other methods of generating such manure?

A. If you consume eggs, dont throw the shells away. Wash them with water, and keep them for 15 days. Churn them and you have usable manure with you, once mixed with the manure from the Vermi Compost. We are actually collecting egg shells from shops near our college each day and have already done a sample of the same.

Q. How are such ideas creating a wave of change amongst students in your college? Are they interested towards the Rural India and the BoP?

A. Our college is situated strategically surrounded with villages and hence students have a natural inclination towards the Rural India. Also we have a strong Ecell with 500 members and our own facility at the college, for which we get lots of motivation and support from our professors.

Attracting more students towards the Ecell, we introduced ID cards and we get 15% discount from Dominos!

Q. What lessons have you learnt and challenges faced with the Vermi Compost project?

A. Students initially laughed at me, but now that I’d be selling it at INR 50/ KG, almost the entire college knows what is possible and also they are taking it further creating new inroads.

Q. What support are you looking at from external agencies?

A. We do organize mentoring sessions and sure are looking for support from external agencies in terms of taking the word out. In the similar line, we have organized a major offline event with the Chennai Mayor, towards cleaning a water body, full of filth.

It was great learning from the young emerging entrepreneur and to support such young minds with a platform to take their innovations further, we invite you to the Global Energy Challenge, if you know an interesting innovation, creating sustainable and cheap energy for the Rural India, NOMINATE it and you stand a chance to WIN $3000.

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