Visakhapatnam: A Vizag-based start-up ‘19Farms’ has taken the initiative to train farmers the traditional way of farming which is almost forgotten. The process is based on Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) model which is introduced by Indian agriculturist Subhash Palekar. The company also takes the organic produce from them, provides marketing support and technical assistance required at every stage. In ZBNF model of farming, farmers enrich the soil fertility by utilizing natural bio-degradable components such as cow-dung, urine and friendly earthworms for the cultivation and growth of healthy plants within zero-budget.
The model does not encourage use of harmful products like chemical fertilizers, and chemical pesticides. Kameshwar Kota, founder of 19Farms, explained the advantages of this method, , told “Farmers can increase the fertility of the soil by using simple techniques that include crop rotation, biological pest control, manual removal of weeds and organic compost. We train them in preparing ‘Jeeva-mrutham’ by using cow dung and urine obtained from indigenous cows.”
By this method, the farm productivity increases gradually with time. For instance, if a regular farm produces 50 rice bags per acre, an organic farm produces only 25 in the first year, 35-40 bags in second year and 50-55 bags from the fourth year onwards, informed Mr. Kota. His two-month old start-up has trained more than 20 farmers from nearby villages to produce chemical-free food items. Moreover, it has also procured the organic food from them to sell in the retail market. Currently the start-up has one retail outlet at Rama Talkies road, and markets the products at the Beach Road during weekends. Simultaneously, 19Farms also helps farmers in selling the food items to other retailers as well.
The start-up has also supported the farmers with their packaging and branding of the products that have made farmers get 20 per cent higher rates for the produce compared to the market price