A couple of years after her marriage, Assam’s Kanika Talukdar lost her husband to a disease.

While she was grieving her husband’s death, future responsibilities loomed large in front of her, including that of raising her newborn daughter.

“My parents brought me back home from my in-laws’. I thought of working as I did not want to be an unwanted bojh (burden) for my elderly parents,” she says.

To fend for herself and her daughter, the class 12 pass-out worked low-paying jobs like weaving. For every Assamese saree she weaved, she would only earn Rs 1,000.

It was only in 2014 that she attended a workshop by Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and came across a way to earn a better income.

“Here, I learnt about vermicomposting and became interested in it as I had easy access to all the raw materials like cow dung and leaves at my home,” she says.

With just Rs 500 of her savings and 1 kg of earthworms provided by KVK in Nalbari district, she started the vermicompost business.

Kanika uses paddy residue, and stems of water hyacinth, and mixes it along with cow dung to turn this organic debris into vermicompost.

Kanika also learnt to prepare vermiwash – a liquid extract produced from vermicompost as well as enriched vermicompost manure that has higher nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content over regular vermicompost.

Kanika now sells the products to Assam’s agriculture department and to nurseries across Meghalaya, Assam, and Nagaland. With this, she earns Rs 3.5 lakh monthly.

“Today, I am able to teach my daughter in a good school. Previously, I did not feel comfortable asking my parents for money. Thankfully, I do not have to ask for money from anyone today,” she says with pride.