City compost in India – from waste to healthy soil

Since April 2018, GIZ has been carrying out the implementation of the city compost project and is now entering in the phase of standardisation for further upscaling - article published in rural21

A lorryload of organic waste from close by the city arrives at the waste treatment plant in Nashik. | Photo: Ronny Sen/GIZ

Waste management and soil degradation are two of India’s most pressing environmental concerns. The Indian state of Maharashtra, together with two GIZ projects, tackles both through one market mechanism – ‘city compost’. Urban municipal waste is composted and used as organic fertiliser in agriculture. This relieves the cities’ waste management and enhances rural soils and in turn productivity.

In India, over 377 million people live in almost 8,000 cities or towns. They generate 62 million tons of municipal solid waste annually, according to the country’s government. More than 80 per cent is disposed indiscriminately without treatment at dump yards in an unhygienic manner. In the Indian countryside, ecological sustainability of agriculture has been at risk due to an excessive use of chemical fertilisers and monoculture since the ‘Green Revolution’ led to a degradation of land. Carbon concentration in India has decreased to a minimum. This causes crucial problems as carbon improves soil health, releases nutrients and protects plants against harmful substances. More than half of India’s land is already reported to be degraded.

One clever solution to both problems is city compost. Organic waste is collected in the cities, recycled and processed to compost and finally used as organic matter by farmers complementing the traditional farmyard manure. Thereby, carbon nutrient in the waste gets back to the soil to enhance agricultural production. The two Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) projects “Green Innovation Centre for the Agriculture and Food Sector” and “Soil Protection and Rehabilitation for Food Security (ProSoil)” support the implementation.

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erstellt von:
Monika Austaller (Green Innovation Centre), and Navin Horo (ProSoil), both GIZ India