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This agritech mobilizes wet waste from cities as compost that saves crops, land and farmers in rural areas

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  • Pune based agritech startup Kisanserv started an initiative to bring the wet waste in urban areas to farmers.
  • According to the Government of India’s 2019-20 Soil Health Survey, almost half of India’s soil is suffer from varying degrees of degradation.
  • When the soil is treated with compost every year within 3-4 years, its health will improve.

One man’s waste is another’s treasure. A Pune-based agritech startup took this adage literally when it launched an initiative to bring the wet waste in urban areas to farmers struggling with deteriorating soil quality.

Fork-to-farm initiative
Niranjan Sharma, the co-founder and CEO of Kisanserv, a technology full-stack agritech company, noted that most of the 9,000 farmers in the company’s network were dealing with a common problem: increasingly alkaline soil PH, causing the land became almost barren.

According to the Government of India’s 2019-20 Soil Health Survey,
almost half of India’s soil is suffer from varying degrees of degradation.

Sharma blames it on the extensive use of fertilizers. “About 20 years ago, if farmers used 10 kilos of fertilizer or pesticides on a hectare of land, they are now using 100 kilos – and that’s a growth of 10 times. If this is the situation now, what will it be 25 years later?” asks Sharma who has worked in the agricultural industry for over 20 years.

At the same time, cities have another problem: more waste. Mumbai offers a 10% discount on property tax to housing associations that handle their wet waste. The municipality of Pimpri Chinchwad in Pune has made it compulsory for societies that produce more than 100 kilos of waste per day to process their own waste. However, the associations that gave in to the mandate have too much wet waste that is turned into compost.

“We’ve decided to bridge the gap,” Sharma told https://londonbusinessblog.com/ India. They started this initiative three months ago and currently collect 15 tons of compost from 200 housing associations and distribute it to farmers for free. The goal is to increase it to 300,000 tons by 2023.

Although rural areas can also prepare their compost, urban areas, which are consumer centers, produce the most waste. Farmers, Kisanserv says, are delighted to receive compost. “They also keep asking us about sources they can buy compost from,” Sharma says.

Back to nature
Compost is made with wet waste, usually food waste to which culture has been added. It can later be put through a machine that turns it into compost over time. This easily prepared material can ‘
Sanjeevani to the bottom,” according to Sharma. In Hindu mythology,
Sanjeevani is a panacea that can even reverse death.

As much as 200-300 pounds of compost should be added to an acre of land and this can be repeated every year. If this treatment is continued for three to four years, soil health can change for the better with the addition of necessary nutrients.

In addition, compost-treated farms require less fertilizer than others – in some cases as little as 90% less. This, Sharma believes, could initiate a beneficial cycle in which fruits and vegetables produced with fewer chemicals can make urban consumers healthier. These products are called “natural” rather than organic, which uses no chemicals.

However, such organic farms suffer from reduced yields. For example, a farm that is completely organic can only produce 1 ton of tomatoes, as opposed to 10 tons of a traditional farm that uses fertilizer.

Sri Lanka made the sudden switch to organic after synthetic fertilizers and pesticides were banned in 2021. Within six months the rice was off the land
production decreased by 20%, forced the self-sufficient country to import the grain, exacerbating the financial crisis.

“The loss of yield from fully organic farms is a major problem. Although there is a category of consumers who pay a premium for organic products, a large proportion of organic farmers will cause a hunger problem. So our goal is to help farmers become natural,” says Sharma.

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