Pastoral systems give back more than it takes. Food, Fibre, and Dung. Yes, dung is valuable. Farmers across India swear by the potency of dung to vitalise their crops. Dung carries grass-seeds far and wide, and are vital in regenerating the grassland soil as well as ensuring the growth of new grasses. Let’s mess around with some poop!
Let us follow the dung trail with our pastoralists!
The Panchayats in Kerala auction dung, 40-60% of which is purchased by coffee plantations.
In Rajasthan, Raika camel herds are invited by farmers to s(h)it on their farms and these herders are rewarded with gifts.
Dung in our homes! Cow dung, traditionally used for lining walls and floors of mud huts, has antibacterial properties. It also contains a bacteria Mycobacterium Vaccae, which activates a group of neurons in the brain that produce serotonin – a neurotransmitter that contributes to the feeling of well-being! See, being well is easy, build with dung! Sun dried mud bricks used in the construction of houses use the least energy and are extremely efficient in keeping homes cool in summer and warm in winter. Traditionally, dung (and straw) is added to temper the clay, increase its plasticity, and make bricks for construction. Today, there is renewed interest, in this tradition and constructing ‘green buildings’.
Dung in our medicines ? Many in the German Nazi army were suffering from severe dysentery in Northern Africa during World War II. Hundreds of soldiers were dying.
German doctors and scientists were surprised to see local Arabs curing themselves from dysentery overnight by consuming fresh camel dung!
Upon examination, they realised that camel dung contained Bacillus Subtilis – a bacterial organism that ate other bacteria that got in its way, it aids digestion and crowded out other disease bacteria. Scientists recommended that patients be given a camel dung soup, until this was later developed as a capsule.