Visakhapatnam: Vizag-based start-up 19Farms teaches farmers the traditional way of farming. The process is based on Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) model introduced by Indian agriculturist Subhash Palekar. The company also procures the organic produce from them and provides marketing support and technical assistance to them. The ZBNF model is a holistic method of farming in which farmers enrich the soil fertility using natural bio-degradable components such as cow-dung, urine and friendly earthworms to grow healthy plants within zero-budget.
The model discourages use of market-based inputs like chemical fertilisers, and chemical pesticides. Explaining the benefits of this method, Kamesh-war Kota, founder of 19Farms, said: “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.”
“Under this method, the farm productivity increa-ses gradually with time and the number of man hours. If a regular farm produces 40 rice bags per acre, an organic farm produces only 20 in the first year, 30-35 bags in second year and 45-50 bags from the fourth year onwards,” he said. The two-month old start-up has trained around 20 farmers from nearby villages in producing chemical-free food items. Moreover, it has procured the organic food from them to sell in the retail market. Currently, it has one retail outlet at Rama Talkies road and markets the products at the Beach Road during weekends. At the same time, 19Farms also helps farmers in selling the food items to other retailers.
“With our packaging and branding of the products, we have made the farmers realise 20 per cent higher rates compared to the market price,” Mr Kota said.
According to him, the start-up procures rice fr-om farmers of Routhupu-ram village in Srikaku-lam district, pulses from Kurnool, vegetables from Guntur and spices from a Pune-based organisation that follows organic farming. It is also planning to procure fruits and millets from suitable farmers in neighbouring villages.
Mr Kota has started this venture with his friends Oshadhi Sadashiv and Yalavarthy Ganesh as co-founders who come from agrarian family background.
While Mr Sadashiv has also done post graduation in agribusiness management with him at Sri Sri University, Mr Ganesh was his classmate in B.Tech. They are looking to take farm lands on long lease to start organic farming.