Harnessing Microbiome Replenishment Technology To Paint The Planet Blue And Green

Dr. Kamath is widely known for his achievement in drug delivery and drug system optimization. He has various research papers under his name.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to press the reset button on every facet of life as we know it. It has served as a brutal reminder that eco-consciousness and sustain-ability are not just buzz words, but the key to the survival of all life on the planet. With the human population poised to touch a staggering 10 billion by the year 2050, the three issues our future depends upon are: food security, effective sanitation & solid waste management.

Believe it or not, a part of the answer to these pressing issues resides with organisms that cannot even be seen without the help of a micro-scope. Microbes have existed on this planet ever since the oceans began to churn and will in all probability, outlive all the other species that exist on this planet today. If a tiny virus like the COVID-19 has the power to bring the entire planet to a screeching halt, surely there are microbes that if harnessed well, benefit the world as well! So what makes these critters so special? The sheer ability to survive extreme environments, changing weather patterns, adaptability when it comes to food, make microbes the most tenacious organisms this planet has birthed. From growing better food, creating alternative fuels, better hygiene and sanitation, cleaner water, all can be achieved with the help of these super organisms. If harnessed efficiently, they can serve to be the ultimate green product.

Microbes can ensure no one goes hungry
The issue of global food security is becoming increasingly hard to ignore. Simply put, too many mouths to feed, not enough food being made. Agriculture today is plagued with problems like biologically infertile soils, inadequate irrigation resources, excessive use of chemical inputs and increasingly erratic weather patterns due to climate change. Bringing sustainability to agricultural practices is the need of the hour.

What if we could prevent a breakdown before it occurred? Sludge build up in septic tanks occurs due to poor natural microbial activity

Microbes breathe life into our soils and have gradually been phased out due to unsustainable practices. When harnessed & applied systematically microbes can pave the way for efficient crop nutrition & protection, in a sustainable manner. Microbial presence has also proven to positively influence the quality of nutritive value of agricultural produce. So how is agricultural microbial technology sustainable or `green'? Unlike the usage of chemical inputs, which cause a vicious cycle of dependency with time, microbes naturally colonise agricultural soils, reproduce and maintain their numbers. A microbial replenishment using specially chosen plant growth enhancing microbes is hyper critical to ensure that agricultural soils remain arable for the coming generations to benefit from.

Microbial Technology & the global sanitation conundrum
Today one of the greatest challenges developing countries face is poor sanitation. And it comes saddled with two more issues: disease epidemics & lack of access to clean drinking water. A lack of a planned sewer net-works in semi-urban and rural communities around the world has given rise to the installation of septic tanks and bio-digestors as an alternative for faecal sludge management. Despite this, rural communities in particular grapple with the social evil of open defecation due to latrine usage abandonment.

The most common reason for latrine usage abandonment is septic tank failure. Toilets become dysfunctional due to odour emanation & clogging arising from extreme sludge build up. When left uncorrected, it forces people towards open defecation. Not only does this give rise to social evils such as molestation of women & children, but also has serious health & environmental implications as well in the form of disease epidemics arising from exposed faecal waste & ground water contamination with untreated faecal waste. The need of the day is to bring into practice, simple yet effective biotechnological solutions for faecal sludge management and safe disposal of bio-logical waste.

What if we could prevent a break-down before it occurred? Sludge build up in septic tanks occurs due to poor natural microbial activity. Microbial replenishment of septic tanks using robust & effective enzyme producing microbes can ensure optimal sludge breakdown & prevent pathogenic growth. Couple this with switching to septic tank friendly natural cleaning products, and we can nip the entire problem in the bud! No engineering technology in the world can beat the simplicity, cost-effectiveness and efficiency with which a humble microbial community works. A grave problem with a simple, cost-effective & green solution!

Microbes can be David to the Goliath of solid waste management crisis
Poor solid waste management means more than just smelly landfills. It means impending disease epidemics, noxious & greenhouse gas emissions and pollution of epic proportions. We are throwing away more than we can replenish, replace or recreate. The bad news is that we are hurtling to-wards the point of no return at warp pace. The good news is that there is still a way out.

The simple act of segregating bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste and composting biodegradable waste can reduce the amount of garbage that reaches the landfills by half. Not just this, compost can be used to replenish the fertility of agricultural lands and reduce the usage of chemical inputs by a large extent. At the epicentre of any organic waste management process are of course - microbes. The right microbes, when present in a composting system accelerate the breakdown of organic matter and hasten the creation of the compost. Creating a high turnover composting system with highly effective robust microbial machinery at a community level is a green solution can decentralise waste management and ease the burden most municipal bodies face today in tackling the Goliath that is solid waste.

In Conclusion
Philosophy teaches us that our existence relies on a continuous balancing act. What we seldom realise is that microbes have been doing the balancing act for us all along. They clean the water we make dirty, they replenish the soil we over-use, they degrade the waste we create and produce antibiotics to help fight disease. Microbes are truly the alpha and omega of any conversation on sustainability. Shifting the heat map of climate change from terrifying hues of red and orange to a promising blue and green can be made possible if we learn to harness the unlimited potential of microbes.