Vermicomposting is a technology that transforms degradable wastes and manure into high quality organic fertilizer using earthworms. Compost generated from the process reduces the need for pesticide because this method allows nutrients to be readily absorbed by the plant and remain intact in the soil. Such was the vision of the Catuguing Palayamanan 4-H Working Youth Club of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, when members ventured into their Vermicomposting Project. When Catuguing representative Ric Salviejo started talking about African Nightcrawlers before a panel of judges, no one knew what they were. Not until he explained that these were a species of earthworms used for composting that the puzzled looks went away. Despite his shy demeanor, it was apparent that Ric knew everything about the project by heart from the details of how to breed these earth creatures to the bigger scope of the project’s impact on the community— displaying knowledge that can only be gained from being dedicatedly hands-on. What’s the Story? The Catuguing Palayamanan 4-H Working Youth Club’s vermicomposting project started out when 2 members attended a training seminar conducted by the Department of Agriculture at the University Training Center in Batac City. From this, the club set up 3 vermi-beds as assistance from the Bureau of Soils and Water Management came in the form of 1 shredding machine, 2 compost tea brewers and 15 kilograms African Night Crawlers for breeding. The first set of compost material, or vermi-casts, successfully produced was used in the youth club’s Dragon Cactus production and Bio-Intensive Garden projects. As a favorable outcome, high demand for organic fertilizer now provides stable income for members of the youth club. Farmers in the area are now inclined to use this type of fertilizer instead of buying other brands. In addition to this, the zero waste management program of the community is supported since degradable wastes are collected and utilized in vermicomposting. Recognition and Success Proof of their hard work and important contributions, the Catuguing Palayamanan 4-H Working Youth Club has been recognized as an Outstanding Young Farmers Organization on the municipal, provincial and regional levels. Garnering a 20,000 peso grant as a TAYO 8 national finalist, the youth club also bagged the Gawad Kabataang Agri Pinoy for Luzon. This award given by the Department of Agriculture also comes with a 25,000 peso grant that will be used to further the youth club’s initiatives in their self-sufficiency programs.
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