To increase income along with farming, Darshana Sharma of Uttar Pradesh learned to make vermicompost 20 years ago. Today she is earning a good profit by selling earthworms and manure made from it. Not only this, people from all over the country also come to him to take training in making fertilizers.
Although she started with agriculture, but today she is mainly doing fertilizer business. Darshana has always been a housewife. Her husband Lokeshwar Dayal Sharma worked in the Air Force.
But after retiring, he decided to cultivate his four acres of ancestral land in Mitli village of Baghpat (Uttar Pradesh). In those days, Darshana also used to help them at the time of harvesting and sowing. Later, Darshana started doing vermicompost work by joining a self-help group of village women.
How did you learn to make compost?
The Better India Talking to Darshana says, “In the year 2002, under the Diversified Agriculture Support Project (DASP) of the World Bank, groups of women and men of the village were formed. The purpose of which was to connect farmers with works like manure making, animal husbandry with agriculture. At that time I was made the head of a group of 16 women of the village. Under the project, two kg earthworms were also given to each group. Which we had to use as manure. We were given very general information under the project.”
Although he did not know how to make manure from earthworms at the time, nor did any farmer in the village use it. No one was ready to take the two kg earthworms found under the project. But Darshana and her husband felt that it should be learned. At that time he started making it under the guidance of the word bank team and reading in the books. Darshana told that during that time he had taken a broadband connection of BSNL so that he could learn to make vermicompost from the internet as well.
He used it on his farm and found it to be the best way to do organic farming. Though it was a new business but Darshana is a visionary minded woman so she was sure that people will definitely adopt it in the coming days.
Realizing the benefits of vermicompost, she bought two more quintals of earthworms and together with her husband thought of doing business on a large scale.
She says, “We would go to participate in agricultural fairs across the country. Participated in timely seminar at Krishi Kendra in Lucknow. My husband used to handle the marketing work while I looked after the composting. After his departure, my son is looking after the marketing work.”
At that time no one used to make vermicompost on such a large scale. About five times the Agriculture team of the World Bank has come to visit his compost plant.
Works together with son and daughter-in-law
Darshana’s son Prashant Sharma started working with his parents after completing his Intermediate studies. Prashant says, “Since I was not much interested in studies, my father explained that learn farming and compost work properly and help us.”
After the death of his father, he is handling all the marketing work. While his wife works in the fields. He works as manure on two acres of land. While on the remaining two acres, the family grows fruits and vegetables and grains.
Darshana has received many awards for her efforts, including the Chaudhary Charan Singh Kisan Award, at the district and state level as well. Darshana, who belongs to a business family, has made her own identity apart from supporting her husband.
Gradually with time, he started composting with new technology in his unit. They currently have composting facilities in both indoor and outdoor setups.
Has given training to 600 farmers across the country
In the year 2007, she did the work of training other farmers on government tender, for which she used to give earthworms to the farmers and also taught them the techniques of making fertilizers.
She says, “We have seen that many farmers want to learn this work. Then we started training many farmers at our own level too.”
Most of the vermicompost made in Darshana’s farm goes to Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Vermicompost is very useful for floriculture in Jammu, so its demand is very high there.
People from many states of the country come to Darshana, who has made her own identity for good quality manure, to learn how to make compost. Many people, after taking training, buy earthworms from them and start their own work. Sumit Khadua of West Bengal (Jhargram) says that he came to know about Darshana’s vermicompost unit two years ago through the internet.
Sumit says, “We had bought Eisenia fetida variety earthworms from them, after which I sent two boys working on my farm there for training. After training, we started doing vermicomposting on a large scale. Darshana ji and Prashant continue to guide us from time to time, like how to increase the number of earthworms or how to take care of earthworms at the time of change in the environment?
His unit produces 3000 tonnes of vermicompost in a year. Darshana says, “The annual turnover from the sale of compost and earthworms is comfortably 30 to 40 lakhs.”
Editing – Archana Dubey
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