CAP shows the way with earthworms

vermiVermihome — a place to breed earthworms — has been successfully initiated by the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP), as part of our programme to promote sustainable agriculture. The vermihome was set up to educate the public on how to convert kitchen and garden wastes into vermicompost which is very useful for organic farming.

The home will also serve as a training place for those who want to learn about composting and earthworm breeding, production of vermicompost and setting up a vermihome.

Over the years, CAP has been supporting sustainable agriculture practices as an alternative to modern agriculture techniques that cause serious ecological damage and threaten the health of both farmers and consumers. CAP is encouraging farmers to move away from capital- intensive chemical-based agricultural technology to low-cost nonchemical sustainable agriculture.

Emphatic usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticide, have created more problems rather than solving them. Besides polluting the environment, chemical-based agriculture techniques have changed pests’ profile, turning many minor insect species to emerge as major pests.

In order to promote sustainable agriculture, since 2003, CAP has invited non-chemical farming experts from India to conduct trainings and awareness programmes for Malaysian farmers. These experts have been taken all over Malaysia to meet vegetables and paddy cultivators. Agriculture Department officers have also participated in these trainings.

During these meetings, various methods of organic farming such as composting, earthworm breeding and preparation of vermicompost, panchakavya (a brew made by mixing 5 elements from a cow, eg: cow’s milk and urine) and pest repellent have been demonstrated.

In 2005, a group of 39 farmers (Malay, Chinese and Indian) were taken on a Natural Farming Study Tour to Tamil Nadu, India to further enhance organic farming techniques.

About 200 farmers have adopted some form of natural farming methods and farmers in Kulai, Sungai Siput, Kulim and Seberang Perai are successfully producing vermicompost, panchakavya and other foliar sprays and pest repellents and supplying to local farmers.

vermihome1CAP believes that by setting up this vermihome, we will be able to disseminate more information to the public on recycling of organic wastes, refrain from using chemicals in planting and encourage use of environment friendly manure. School children are encouraged to visit the vermihome to get an idea on how to start one in their schools.

On 25 May at the launching of CAP’s vermihome, a group of students were taught about the preparation of compost, earthworm breeding, vermicomposting and gardening by Dr Sultan Ismail, a soil biologist and vermitech specialist from India. Samples of vermi-compost and panchakavya were distributed to students and public at the launch.