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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Worms dig firm out of debt
Worms
500 rupees a kilo is the going rate
A cash-strapped Indian agriculture firm has used 10 tonnes of earthworms to pay back a 65,000 loan.

The struggling company, Uttar Pradesh Agro (UPA), took out the loan a year ago and was supposed to repay it this month with 10% interest.

But, having run into financial difficulties with its business in agricultural appliances, it has been forced instead to hand over a lump sum of earthworms, according to a source at the Cow Protection Agency.

The worms are being valued at 500 rupees (6.5; $11) a kilogramme and will be used for the growing process of vermiculture, when worms are fed cow manure to produce fertiliser.

The money was owed to the Cow Protection Agency, which is thought to be distributing the worms amongst its cow shelters at the moment.

Suspicious?

But the move has caused controversy.

"There is not enough room in the cow shelters, if they put that quantity of worms in there too, there won't be enough space for any cows," one official told BBC News Online.

And the Times of India wrote an article which quoted textbook references to the spread of foot-and-mouth disease through earthworms as a warning against the arrangement.

The fact that the chairman of the Cow Protection Agency was previously head of UPA has also raised suspicion.

The UPA was unavailable for comment.



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