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Vermicompost Production: Enriching the Soil for Better Vegetables

Posted On: February 20, 2024
Farmer Abdul Jalil Akon holds a handful of vermicompost in front of the concrete rings that hold his vermicompost operation.
Farmer Abdul Jalil Akon sits with a handful of vermicompost in front of the concrete rings that hold his vermicompost operation.

Since its inception in 2020, East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation Bangladesh has encouraged farmers to use organic inputs like vermicompost (earthworm manure) and organic mulch for a better environment and better soil health. Building on this, in April 2023 we started a vermicompost production program under the Smart Farming, Healthy Food project.

A Vermicompost Primer

Making vermicompost is relatively easy but requires attention to detail. The process involves creating a suitable environment for earthworms to decompose organic matter into nutrient-rich compost, called vermicompost. Factors to consider include maintaining the right moisture level, ensuring proper aeration, and controlling the temperature. 

Earthworms thrive in shaded environments, which help to regulate the temperature and moisture levels essential for optimal worm activity and decomposition. Additionally, shade protects the composting material from direct sunlight, which can dry it out and hinder decomposition. Providing a shaded area for the vermicompost operation contributes to the overall success and productivity of the composting process.

Vermicompost Opportunities for Farmers

When we trained farmers on seedling production, we found that there was a shortage of good organic matter for growing quality seedlings, with farmers relying on a mixture of soil, manure, and rice husks. In discussing options with farmers, we identified vermicompost as a particularly effective medium in which to start seedlings. Vermicompost can also be applied in the field to improve soil health, reducing the use of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers and animal manure contribute to carbon emissions, and using vermicompost is one way to reduce the release of carbon to the environment. 

Despite the benefits of vermicompost, it is not always available for purchase in southern Bangladesh, and it can be expensive to buy. We therefore decided to educate farmers about vermicompost production and to help them establish their own vermicompost operations by providing financial support and initial inputs—earthworms, netting, and a concrete ring to contain the worms.  

Amena Begum sifts her harvested vermicompost over a blue tarp.

While learning improved techniques for vegetable production, Amena Begum was introduced to the value of vermicompost. Soon after, she started her own vermicompost operation, with support from EWS-KT.

Read Amena’s story here.

In 2023, farmers established 23 vermicompost operations in 8 upazilas, or subdistricts. In the first 8 months of the program, the harvest from 14 of the vermicompost operations totaled 2,818 kilograms, and most of the farmers are now expanding. Farmers are using the vermicompost in their seedling production and in their fields. Some farmers are also capitalizing on entrepreneurial opportunities, selling their vermicompost—or extra earthworms—to other farmers.  

Through vermicompost production, farmers are able to increase their income while protecting the environment and enriching the soil for better vegetable harvests.

Interested in learning more about vermicompost production? Check out this video: