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A bit of Maoism on my plate

I am a pure non-vegetarian, unlike pure vegetarians. But since consuming meat, fish and poultry all the time is neither healthy nor fits my budget, I eat veggies too.

world Updated: Jan 02, 2011 23:18 IST
Utpal Parashar

I am a pure non-vegetarian, unlike pure vegetarians. But since consuming meat, fish and poultry all the time is neither healthy nor fits my budget, I eat veggies too.

It is this hate-hate association with greens that sparked my interest in a news report in a Nepali newspaper last week. The report dealt with veggies grown using human urine.

It tells how 6000 litres of urine collected during Maoist plenum at Palungtar in Gorkha district in November is being used by farmers in Chitwan to fertilize their vegetables.

After storing it in plastic bins for a month the urine is being distributed to farmers on the condition that they will return the fertilizer in kind from piddle stored in their toilets.

Meena Pokharel, a resident of Darechowk, informed how after successfully using her own urine to fertilize her bitter gourd and cucumber crop, she is now relying on Maoists piss to boost her cabbage yield.

A bit of Googling informed that despite the ‘yuck’ factor, human urine is a safe, inexpensive and organic fertilizer for foods crops — and although its use is rare these days it was very prevalent centuries ago.

But with growing interest in organic food, there is a steady increase in farmers in some European nations using urine to replace chemical fertilizers. Rich in nitrogen and other nutrients, human urine substantially increases yields of vegetables without changing their nutritional value. Piss mixed with wood ash can reduce acidity of acid soils.

And there’s a Nepali connection to all these. Surendra K. Pradhan, a researcher at University of Kuopio in Finland is doing pioneering research on benefits of human urine in agriculture.

Pradhan and colleagues have successfully demonstrated the benefits of liquid excreta. His studies on the subject have been published in prominent scientific journals and newspapers abroad.