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Abstract

The aim of this work was to study the effect of the traditional thermophillic composting that commonly adopted for treatment of organic wastes or for production of organic/natural fertilizers that is introduced to a related technique, called vermicomposting (using earthworms to breakdown the organic wastes). These two techniques have their inherent advantages and disadvantages. The integrated approach suggested in this study borrows pertinent attributes from each of these two processes and combines them to enhance the overall process and improve the products qualities. Two approaches investigated in this study are: pre-composting followed by vermicomposting. Eisenia fetida (red wigglers) and African nightcrawler were the species of earthworms used in the vermicomposting processes. The results indicate that, a system that combines the two processes not only shortens stabilization time, but also improves the products quality. Combining the two systems resulted in a product that was more stable and consistent (homogenous), had less potential impact on the environment and for compostvermicomposting system, the product met the pathogen reduction requirements.

1. Introduction
Waste has become a major problem to this world due to the increasing population, urbanization, intensive agriculture and industrialization. The problem of waste disposal from a myriad of industries, is becoming increasingly acute, the world over. Kitchen waste consists of considerable quantities of food processed and prepared for human consumption and all other constituents of the refuse like plastics and paper. While people give attention to recycle inorganic wastes such as plastics, glass and papers, the organic waste can be recycled into compost. As such, composting of kitchen waste can be an effective method to reduce waste in landfills which helps to conserve the environment. The major problems associated with traditional thermophillic composting are the long duration of the process, the frequency of turning of the material, the material sometimes needs to be reduced in size to provide the required surface area, loss of nutrients during the prolonged composting process, and the heterogeneous nature of the product. In recent times, interest in the use of a closely-related technique, known as vermicomposting (using earthworms to breakdown organic materials) has increased. In its basic form, this is a lowcost technology system that primarily uses earthworms in the processing or treatment of organic wastes. Certain species of earthworms can consume organic material residuals very rapidly and fragment them into much finer particles by passing them through a grinding gizzard, an organ that all worms possess. The earthworms derive their nourishment from microorganisms that grow upon these materials.