2003-07-22 00:52:06 UTC
By Shaikh Azizur Rahman
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
BOMBAY — Municipal authorities in New Delhi have devised a
plan to profit from thousands of stray cattle that roam the streets of
the Indian capital: They have decided to export cow dung and urine to
the United States for use in farming.
The dung will be processed into compost, and the urine will be
converted into a pesticide, a senior officer of the Municipal
Corporation of Delhi said.
"If we can round up all of the 35,000 stray cattle from the streets
of Delhi, they can produce enough dung and urine to yield 160 tons of
vermicompost and 70,000 liters of biopesticide daily," said the
official, who requested anonymity.
"We have already chalked out the detailed plan to process the dung
and urine, and also to export them" to the United States. Officials,
however, refused to reveal details of the deal or the identities of
the prospective U.S. buyers.
The civic agency is in the process of purchasing customized
hydraulic trucks to catch stray cattle on the streets and transport
them to shelters in and around Delhi, Municipal Commissioner Rakesh
"The unique initiative is intended not only to earn money, but also
to address the problem of the stray cattle. Streets will become
cattle-free, and the shelterless cattle will also have their own place
where they will be taken care of well," Mr. Mehta said.
The city has sought the expertise of the Morarka Foundation, a
nongovernmental group specializing in the use of urban waste.
"While there is no dearth of cows in the U.S., the demand for
vermicompost made from Indian cow dung there is quite high," said
Vardhman Bapna, chairman of the Morarka Foundation, which is planning
to set up India's largest vermiculture unit soon.
He said the Indian cow dung has been found superior because the
American dung has a high chemical content. "Not surprisingly, we have
received numerous inquiries from the U.S.," he said.
Sanjeev Kumar, an activist supporting the project, said it would
cost about $21 to produce a ton of vermicompost in India and that it
would sell at $1,500 in the United States.
To maintain each of the cows, the city would spend no more than 60
cents a day, he said.
Mr. Bapna said the response from the U.S. market has been
overwhelming and that the city, in fact, might find it difficult to
meet the demand.
"We have already received a monthly demand of 6,000 tons [of
vermicompost] from the U.S. But with 35,000 cows, at best we can
produce 4,800 tons a month," he said.
ar, India's Gau Seva Sangh, or Cow Protection Commission, failed in an
attempt to get movie stars to endorse a line of cosmetics made from
cow urine and herbs. The commission said the products, under the label
"Gifts of the Gods," would improve skin texture and reverse aging.
For generations, cow dung and urine have been used in Indian
households, but their benefits have only recently been studied
scientifically. Last year, Indian scientists were granted a U.S.
patent to use cow urine as a fungicide.
Hindus consider the cow sacred, and cow slaughter is banned in most
states in India.