Farmers’ interviews reveal co-compost application results in cost-saving beyond chemical fertiliser’s usage reduction in India

At the end of June 2019, the Environmental Compliance and the Monitoring and Evaluation Team from USAID visited the project site in the Nilgiris (India) under the Securing Water For Food (SWFF) programme.

WASTE, in cooperation with RDO Trust, innovates under the SWFF programme with the recycling of blackwater for co-compost production and the recycling of greywater for irrigation of vegetable farmers in the Nilgiris District (South India).

During their field visit, a total of six farmers from different villages were interviewed to understand the impact of co-compost and recycled greywater application on their livelihood. They talked about the difference in input costs and income before and after innovation and their perception of co-compost and recycled greywater.

Clear benefits
The interviews revealed that farmers have experienced clear benefits from the application of co-compost and recycled greywater. Farmers who have used co-compost reported increased moisture in soil due to better soil water holding capacity, which results in less water use and consequently reduced labour cost due to less watering and therefore cost-saving from less diesel usage. Also, some farmers made a remark that they experienced a better germination rate – survival rate of their seeds – which results in effective used of seed and cost-savings too. Farmers have also seen faster growth rate of their beetroot that took 60 days in comparison to 75 days with only chemical fertiliser.

Critical irrigation
Additionally, farmers who have used recycled greywater made a remark that due to the availability of recycled greywater, they are now able to do critical irrigation – during the dry period, when there is no water at all. Due to growing water scarcity, the USAID Environmental Compliance team has suggested to establish a precaution over recycled greywater by having a clear ‘water distribution and sharing plan’ in order to avoid future conflict over recycled greywater during the dry period.

Beyond cost saving
From this farmer’s survey, it was eye opening to see that the usage of co-compost goes beyond cost saving in chemical fertiliser – cost-savings from water, labour, energy, time and seed. A detailed case study will be developed to document the experiences by farmers from using co-compost and recycled greywater. Moreover, an Independent Field Evaluator is hired by the SWFF team to undertake interviews from larger sample size of at least 50 farmers. The results of this Independent Field Evaluation will be released in August 2019.

For more information, contact Priska Prasetya: pprasetya[at]

Column written by: WASTE Adviser, Priska Prasetya