March 9, 2016

City Farming

I. Organic Gardening Club

Garden Clubs

Every individual has keen interest in nature and persons or residents in cities develop beautiful gardens in the areas available to them. INORA KHF studied these gardens and interacted with many such people and found out that there is unnecessary use of persticides like Rogar, Endosulphan, DDT, BHC, DAP, Urea. These chemicals are extremely harmful and persistent in the eco-system for a long time. It was necessary to create awareness amongst residents to avoid such use of chemicals, pesticides in the gardening areas. Most of the gardens are also utilizing soils which come from mined areas from hills. These hilly regions have to face environmental degradation due to such mining. At the same time, in cities, the organic waste generated from households, from green areas are either thrown as trash or burned.

INORA decided to provide solutions for all these problems which are faced by the garden developers as they are mainly amateurs in the understanding of soil, plant care and environmental issues. Since 1999, INORA KHF started the Garden Club to make them aware of these problems and at the same time give them solutions for garden management by using bio mass waste instead of bought out soil. The use of home made bio pesticide like chilly garlic extracts, soap solutions, etc was also made aware. Members were also made aware of vermicomposting systems and use of vermicompost in gardening. More than 800 residents have benefitted as members of INORA’s Organic Garden Club.

The club meets on first and third Friday of the month between June and April every year.

We have now 3 Garden clubs in various areas of Pune. These are as follows-

Garden clubs of Inora

1) Inora’s Organic Gardener’s club.
Contact- ( 020) 22951753/1758
Area- Manisha Society. Karve ngr.

2) Ms. Sumati Somayaji
Contact- ( 020) 25391034
Area- Dhanukar colony.

3) Mrs. Shubda Natu
Contact- (020) 24371288
Area- Dhankavdi

II. Satellite Center

Our organic garden club members wanted to volunteer for our master composter and master gardener program. These members were trained in all aspects of organic gardening and composting. Their areas were developed as demonstration centers for composting and gardening and these satellite centers then opened up their residences for neighbourhood areas to visit and see the demonstrations for effective use of composts, household remedies, biomass, sustainable garden management and waste management. These centers are now sales counters for all the organic garden inputs and products manufactured by INORA. Such 17 centers are now effectively working in Pune city to help the neighborhoods.

INORA (Institute of Natural Organic Agriculture), a division of the Know How Foundation was established as an NGO in 1992 to undertake R&D in the field of organic farming, city farming and sustainable technologies. One of the areas that INORA has developed substantial expertise over the years is various methods of processing organic solid waste in urban environments.

INORA is currently responsible for processing more than 35 tonnes of organic waste in Pune using decentralised methods that can cover a range right from household level to industrial scale.

Some of the unique selling points of INORA’s decentralised vermi-composting technology are:

  1. Robust process parameters that have been fine tuned over several years.
  2. Own biotechnology know how and inputs that have been developed specifically in consideration of improving the efficiency of the composting process.
  3. Possibility to offer end to end solutions which can be tailor made to suit all scales of needs.
  4. Process that takes into consideration the least amount of load on the environment, cost effective, energy & resource effective and does not require extensive labour inputs.
  5. Extensive knowledge of the commercial aspects of the process has led INORA to develop a unique business model around decentralised solid waste management that could be replicated and also allow for a remunerative career option.

It is INORA’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative which led them to develop a unique business model around vermicomposting on decentralised model. INORA empowers social entrepreneurs who would like to explore and develop sustainable business models in decentralised solid waste management with the support of training and hand holding in the identification, development, implementation and maintenance of decentralised vermi-composting projects to process organic kitchen and garden waste.

III. Social Entrepreneurship

Details of INORA’s Social Entrepreneurship Model

To be part of INORA’s Social Entrepreneurship model, INORA formally make a business partnership with aspiring candidates.

Within INORA’s Social Entrepreneurship (SE) model, INORA empowers aspiring SEs by offering following support:

  1. Theoretical and on the job training on vermicomposting process.
  2. Practical involvement in INORA’s live projects.
  3. Training in the business model
  4. Sharing of INORA’s already available network and contacts to support the development and identification of new business opportunities.
  5. Access to experts and professionals in the field through various Waste Management forums
  6. Possibility to join INORA’s garden club to develop in depth know how in the entire waste and gardening / farming value and technology chain.
  7. INORA aims to finally make SEs independent enough that they can operate the business model on their own and spread the technology within the community. The model also helps INORA to extend the use of their products in the market.

Scope of Services of the INORA SE team

The SE team undertakes the following activities in their assigned area:

  1. Scouting for projects: The team jointly with the Local Municipal Ward Office team visit housing societies to survey their vermicomposting projects. The ward office officials are empowered to conduct awareness programs with housing societies and bulk generators and enforce the implementation of decentralised processes within their premises.
  2. Technical evaluation: The SE team has been trained to identify the technical infrastructure available on site and recommend specifications based on the waste generated per day. Recommendations on repairs, upgrade or addition of capacity are also made.
  3. Commercial Offers: The SE team then makes commercial offers on behalf of INORA to the housing complex to implement the vermicomposting project. The commercial offer includes following scope:
    • Setup of vermicomposting system in the pits available at the housing complex on the basis of per kg per day of segregated organic waste generated. This is based on estimates and fine tuned on the basis of measurement of the actual weight of waste generated at the facility at the end of the weekend to capture the max. possible weight per day. The offer covers materials, labour, transport, training, etc.
    • Monthly service charge to maintain the project. This covers the material, visit charges and transport for monthly maintenance. Until the first harvest of compost, the SE team visits on a regular basis that is fixed depending on the level of confidence the SE team gets on training imparted to the responsible man-power available at the housing complex. At the end of this, a standard offer of 2 visits per month are calculated.
    • Buy back offer for the harvested vermicompost. This is made in order to give the customer a value for the waste being generated in their premises and an incentive to continue the process in a stable manner. The SE team buys back the compost and re-sells this to INORA at an agreed rate.
    • The SE team then has the opportunity to be flexible to offer those customers who have smaller requirements with household level products of INORA. In case customers prefer more low cost options without the use of earthworms, SEs can also offer only INORA’s decomposition cultures and train customers on household level composting as well.
    • The SE team is empowered to provide feedback to INORA on potential methods to fine tune and improve all the models involved in this process.
  4. Project Implementation: On confirmation of commercial offer by the client, the SEs implement the project in cooperation with INORA. INORA supplies the material for the project.
  5. Regular Maintenance: As per agreed contract, SEs continue to offer monthly maintenance visits. In case of emergencies where the process breaks down, SEs along with INORA experts can attend to the issue and restore the process back into operation. The client has the flexibility to decide if they would like to disconnect from the monthly services of INORA after sufficient experience has been developed at the client end. In this case, SEs would continue to offer clients the composting materials on need basis.
  6. Buy back of Compost from Clients: The SE team offers to buy back compost from clients. At the end of the harvest, the sieved compost would be weighed and bought at an agreed rate per kg from the client. Clients may also choose to use the compost for their own gardens or even sell it themselves to their residents. In most cases we have found that clients tend to keep the compost for their own needs. In this way there is also a saving through the reduction of the need of fertilisers to be purchased from the market for their own gardening needs.