After he was done with evolution theory, Charles Darwin turned his attention to earthworms. In 1872 - a few months
before he died - he published 'The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms with
Observations on Their Habits'. The treatise demonstrated that earthworms are adroit workers of soil. Its author was, however, a little
sceptical that his work would be taken seriously. He was right to a large extent: enamoured with the agrochemicals
modern humankind did not think that "lowly worms" were any good.
But today many have turned back to the earthworm. Vermiculture-breeding earthworms-is now touted as a healthy
alternative. But how does one deploy the creature's skill? Of course many in India-and elsewhere-would rely on
their traditional knowledge. However, long years of disuse means that such
knowledge rarely gets passed on to the fields.
This site is an attempt to plug this gap. Run by the Chennai-based Ecoscience Research Foundation, it is a treasure
trove of information on the earthworm. Breeding exotic earthworm varieties, appropriate use of
Vermicompost, treating wastewater, how to use waste for
Vermicomposting-these are some areas discussed in good detail. You are
even encouraged to write back.
But who is this site meant for? For well-meaning government officials? The sensitive non-government organisation
worker? Really, one must go beyond, to the farmer. Having the information in a few non-English Indian languages
might be a good first step towards this end.
Courtesy: Science and Environment Fortnightly - Down to Earth
Edition: Sept 30 2004