The 21st century is blessed with sophisticated technology. However, in most of the cases, the price is paid with degraded environment. The excessive use of chemicals in the agriculture has resulted in the degradation of soil quality and has adverse impact on the public health. Besides, fertilizers are scarce and expensive in Nepal.
Almost 3 billion Nepalese rupees are spent on chemical fertilizers annually. This expenditure could be retained in the country for other developmental activities. But again, how to promote sustainable agriculture is a debate. Nevertheless, the solution lies within us. And we need to understand the nutrient cycle and it is primarily the human waste.
“The use of urine can be a better option for the crop production as manure. Besides, the approach is more feasible in coffee production, as urine can be a source of nitrogen which is needed for the production of coffee,” a statement by Shreerendra Pokharel, a school headmaster at the village of Darechowk. Recognized as a Urine Harvester, Pokharel has been campaigning to promote total sanitation. Further, he educated the farmers about utilization of human urine as fertilizer in the farming land. He participated on “School Led Total Sanitation” in 2006 A. D. The program emphasized on the complete elimination of open defecation in school for the improvement of hygiene and sanitation. He implemented the approach in Majha Gaun Secondary School, Darechowk, Chitwan. Realizing the important of human waste collection and its use in agriculture, he further explored into the topic. Considering the need of urine harvesting and its application in agriculture, he trained farmers from local community of Thumki in Kaski.
The transportation of the fertilizers in the distant areas is difficult. Therefore, in Pokharel’s view, the application of urine in agriculture is a sustainable solution for farmers living in rural areas. In Pokharel’s word, “The urine produced from a single person is enough for 500 m2 of land and the crop production from 500 m2 of land is enough to feed a person throughout the year.” The use of urine in agriculture flourished among the farmers living in Chitwan and surrounding districts. The demand for training on urine harvesting also increased. However, it was difficult for Pokharel to train the farmers and still teach in school. He left teaching and worked on establishment of an organization dedicated to work on urine harvest. With the support from community members, Pokharel established a non-governmental organization, The SEWA Nepal. The SEWA Nepal constructed around 1233 ECOSAN toilets and collected more than 35,000 liters of urine.
With the application of collected urine, many farmers are economically benefitted with better crop production. In addition to this, the approach is environmental friendly with minimized chemical pollution from chemical fertilizer. Therefore, Pokharel believes that the use of human waste is better measure for safe sanitation and to promote sustainable livelihood.