Bengaluru farmers use wastewater to grow plants

Farmers in Bengaluru’s periphery and neighboring districts, for the past few decades, have been growing non-edible flowering plants using wastewater. The farms, located in the city’s western parts on the way to neighboring Ramnagara, come from apartments located nearby. The farmers use wastewater to grow marigolds, which are then sold in markets in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru-based water conservation scientist Sreekanth Vishwanath said that the farmers have been engaging in wastewater farming for three decades now. Elaborating on the process, he said, “The water is not treated; it is directly irrigated in the lands. We are working with farmers to grow non-edible crops as a pre-emptive measure so that the wastewater does not percolate into the groundwater and thereby polluting it. These non-edible crops, in this case marigolds, are used to make garlands and for decorative purposes.”

Vishwanath told TNM that this method saves money for the farmers, as they use readily available water. He added that this use also helps in partially preserving the quality of groundwater (often the only source of drinking water in rural areas), as the pollutants in the wastewater do not directly permeate the groundwater.

According to experts, the wastewater cannot be used if it contains industrial pollutants. The farmers, however, have devised their own method to examine whether the water is fit for usage or not, said Vishwanath. “They detect the usability of the water through a visual guide like a change of color owing to industrial pollutants. Upon noting any difference, the farmers neither store it nor pump the water into the fields,” he said.

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