Economy, Business And Markets

Investment Opportunity: Vermicompost Production

Investment Opportunity: Vermicompost ProductionInvestment Opportunity: Vermicompost Production

Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglers, white worms and other earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials and vermicast.

The Persian daily Forsat-e Emrooz recently published an article on setting up a vermicompost production plant and the sector’s investment potential in Iran.

Containing water-soluble nutrients, vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.

Vermicomposting is practiced both on large and small scales. The produced vermicompost may be used for farming, landscaping, to create compost tea, or for sale. Some of these operations also produce worms for bait or home vermicomposting.

There are two primary methods of large-scale vermiculture. Some systems use a windrow, which consists of bedding materials for the earthworms to live in and acts as a large bin with organic material added to it. It is a sustainable, cost-efficient way for farmers to manage dairy waste.

The second type is the raised bed or flow-through system. Here the worms are fed an inch of worm food across the top of the bed, and an inch of castings are harvested from below by pulling a breaker bar across the large mesh screen that forms the base of the bed. Flow-through systems are well suited to indoor facilities, making them the preferred choice for operations in colder climates.

Many different products and wastes can be used as worm food, such as nearly all fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds and filters, teabags, grains like bread and cereal, leaves and grass clippings, dairy cow manure, sewage sludge and any type of agricultural waste.

The benefits of using vermicopost compared to compost produced through other methods include improved soil aeration, higher microbial activity, improved water-holding capacity and better plant root growth.

Furthermore, low capital investment and relatively simple technologies make vermicomposting practical for less-developed agricultural regions.

A 100-square-meter plot of land is required to set up the plant, costing at least $30,000. Another $30,000 must be set aside for purchasing the equipment and working capital.

Hiring plant operators cost about $7,000, and the worm purchase expenses can reach nearly $4,000.

Visits must be made to the province’s Agricultural Jihad Organization in order to acquire the permits, which can take up to six months.

Vermicompost production process, other than yielding compost, also creates worms, with the earthy creatures having a market of their own.

The annual production of 300 tons of compost and 12 tons of worms can yield a nearly $200,000 and $57,000 in profit respectively.

According to Adel Talebi, a player in the field, it is necessary for potential investors vying to enter the business to “find demand for their product before starting production”.

Talebi stressed that the vermicompost production industry is still a fairly new thing in Iran and those investing in the sector will not have to worry about many competitors.