Dr Pasumarthi conducts a demo on how to compost kitchen waste. Photo: PS Rao ICRISAT
08
Feb

Giving back to the community: Enthusiastic homemakers learn the science of safe composting of kitchen waste

Dr Pasumarthi conducts a demo on how to compost kitchen waste. Photo: PS Rao ICRISAT

Dr Pasumarthi conducts a demo on how to compost kitchen waste. Photo: PS Rao ICRISAT

A group of enthusiastic homemakers from a large housing colony that generates two tons of garbage per day attended an hour-long session on how to compost kitchen waste safely while minimizing the odor and the ordeal.

Dr Rajesh Pasumarthi, a microbiologist and a visiting scientist at the ICRISAT Development Center, oriented the group on how to get a steady supply of compost from kitchen waste for their balcony gardens. Handouts on how to do it were given to the participants, who were full of questions.

The recipe is as follows –

What’s needed:

  • A compost bin or a regular bucket/container with a hole at the bottom and a cover with 10-15 holes in it.
  • Kitchen waste minus meat, oil and dairy waste (to discourage maggots and unpleasant odors).
  • An inoculant mixed in a glass of plain water (a few drops of NCOF’s Waste Decomposer or plain old buttermilk – the more sour the better).

Method

  • Chop green kitchen waste that’s generated daily into small bits – 5 cm size is ideal. Egg shells should be crushed if used, leftover cooked food can be added too.
  • Maintain the Carbon/Nitrogen ratio. Approximately 70% of vegetable/fruit waste should be mixed with 30% of dried leaves. If it’s not available it can be substituted with newspapers or bits of cardboard.
  • Keep the contents moist by sprinkling water (needs to have about 50-60% moisture).
  • Aerate the mixture by mixing it ideally every day or once every week.
  • The bucket can be kept in the balcony or terrace with adequate protection from rain.
  • Once the bucket is full, let it sit for 45-50 days. Don’t forget to stir it regularly.
  • Your compost is ready to use if it’s black, granular and smells like earth.

Over coffee and tea, the ladies shared their experiences in handling the garbage disposal in their housing complex (My Home Jewel apartment complex in Madinaguda, Hyderabad) that has 2116 flats.

The entire group was also taken on a field visit to the vermicompost unit located on ICRISAT campus and included a demo on preparing kitchen compost. The event was organized on February 1.

“We have a Go Green initiative in our complex. Last October, we encouraged the residents to separate plastic waste and engaged a recycling vendor to pick it up. We’ve done door-to-door campaigns on segregation of waste in terms of wet and dry, electronic waste and biohazardous waste. This session at ICRISAT is really useful. If all of us did our bit we could cut down on the quantum of at least the green garbage that’s generated.” – Monica Mandal

“We are looking at ways for disposing the 2 tons of garbage that is generated in our complex everyday. There are some systems already in place, but we are looking for more efficient and eco-friendly options to choose from.” – Udisha Alok

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