Humanure: Valuable As Gold

February 20, 2015

Every week, we feature excerpts by Gandhi that lend insight into his values and personal practices.

It is not that well known how fully he and his closest collaborators supported our connection with Mother Earth. An example of this was "The All India Compost Conference" where Miraben, as he called her, presented their views on manure and humanure.

December 21, 1947

"Manure may be described as of two kinds: chemical and organic. One might ask how manure could be organic? The word “organic” is from English. Organic manure is made from human and animal excreta mixed or not mixed with grass, leaves and other such things. We do not regard plants as lifeless but we do regard iron, etc., to be so. Manure formed from such mixture is called “compost” in English. I consider such manure as valuable as gold. It keeps the soil ever fertile. It does not erode the soil and make it barren. It is said that chemical fertilizers destroy the humus of the soil as also bacteria and makes it necessary to keep the soil fallow after every few years of cultivation. Moreover organic manure prevents the breeding of pests." [...]

"We will be then able to save golden manure worth crores of rupees which is being wasted because of our ignorance. The soil will become fertile and we will get better crops than what we are getting. As a result we will be rid of famines, crores of people will get enough to eat and the surplus can be exported. Today our crops are in the same poor condition as our men and animals. The fault is not of the soil but of the people. The worms of lethargy and ignorance are eating into us.

The task undertaken by Mirabehn is of immense magnitude. It will require thousands of Mirabehns. People should take up the work with zest and Government departments should be awake. Merely a few volunteers will not be able to do the work which requires crores of people. We should have an army of volunteers."

NEW DELHI, December 21, 1947

"Compost is matter well placed, whereas rubbish and excreta, solid and liquid, are matter misplaced when they are allowed to lie anyhow to the discomfort of the public and detriment to their health. It is a criminal waste depriving Mother Earth of her precious food. Thus says Shrimati Mirabehn in her leaflet reproduced in full in the Harijan, 23-11-1947, pp. 428-9:

'We do not treat our Mother Earth properly. She does her best to feed us all, but we do not feed her in return. How can she sustain us, her children, if we do not serve her as dutiful children should serve a revered mother? Year after year we plough, sow and reap harvests from the fields, but very rarely do we give any manure to the soil, and even what we give is usually half rubbish. Just as we need well-cooked food, so does the soil need well-prepared manure.'

The curious may get a copy of the leaflet from her at the Kisan Ashram, Rishikesh."

NEW DELHI, December 29, 1947

Source CWMG, Vol 98

Be The Change

This week expore the posibility to learn more about dry toilets and compost toilets. Get familiar with farms around your home and how they process manure.