One of the side effects of being locked down at home this COVID Summer 2020 is getting access to organic veggies delivered to doorstep from various organic vendors, and in few cases getting them directly from Farm to your door step. This blog documents story of Amba Farms from where I was able to get Organic Mangoes. This blog also documents pics and videos of my tryst with Mangoes this summer.
About two months ago, I was introduced to Amba Farms via Google Forms shared by JNTU Classmate Dakshina Murthy. Amba Farms is started by Dinakar, an IT professional with 2 adoring daughters. Dinakar had created a WhatsApp group to keep all the folks who subscribed for receiving organically ripened Mangoes from his farm updated about developments in his farm. He kept us updated about the progress of Mango Harvesting in the farm via various pics for over two months.
I met Dinakar in person, when he came to my home to personally deliver the Mangoes from his farm. See below clip for Mango puree squeezed from Mangoes sourced from Amba Farm. I asked Dinakar about his journey to become a Organic Farmer. He was little hesitant to speak and said, “I haven’t achieved 100% success yet”. I said, it does not matter, and that what he is doing something everyone dreams but very few has patience and courage to do it. He gave me his story points a few weeks later.
Dinakar inspiration for Organic Farming came up , when he stumbled upon a natural farming article by Subhash Palikir, who is a pioneer in zero budget natural farming. Dinakar said he was equally intrigued by Subhash Palikar’s pondering “how are varied plants, tree, shrubs, creepers healthy, well grown, co exists in harmony without need of any fertilizers in a forest?”. This pondering pulled him towards more articles on natural farming, permaculture etc. and eventually embarking on natural and organic farming. Here is the timeline of his journey:
- Around, 2016, Dinakar started looking for a farm along with his friends. Since he could not find like-minded friends who are serious about full time farming, he decided to go solo
- In 2017 Dinakar and his wife finalised and bought 2 acres in Chevella which is about 50 km from Hyderabad. They got a borewell dug, but minimum water was found (< 1 inch), so they went for direct borewell recharge. They planted around 100 fruit trees (jackfruit, mangoes, papaya, apple bear).
- In 2018 December timeframe, they bought a Sahiwal cow with a calf from Rajasthan with help of family friend, which were named as “Amba” and “Parvathi”. They started vegetable farming in 2018 after arranging drip irrigation for the entire field. First, they went after brinjal crop, along with tomatoes and chilies. Though financial ROI wasn’t there, they fully enjoyed chemical free veggies, milks, and fruits. They also introduced due to few local vendors, who raved about the quality.
- Around May 2019, Dinakar decided to go on a big scale, and sourced a large piece of land close to his home Kurnool, with the hope that his dad who is retired agriculture officer, can look after it, when needed. They acquired a 10-acre farm at yaparlapaadu, 25km from Kurnool which already has 150 mango trees, but wasn’t maintained very well, which is kind of good news, as it means the land is not ridden with chemicals.
- Next few months, Dinakar got the land rejuvenated with gana jeevamrutam, jeevamrutam and neemastram to trees from December. In parallel, they cultivated groundnuts and toor dal. In the process, he learned many things TO DO and NOT TO DO
- During early 2020, around February, Dinakar started noticing blooming of mango seeds. Despite, many suggesting giving the trees for lease, which ensure guarantee minimum income, he was adamant of handling everything himself, to avoid use of chemicals by 3rd parties.
- Beginning March 2020, without the use of middleman, he came with concept of Google Farms, and reached out to end customers those who believe naturally ripen mangoes will definitely taste different and better. In multiple phases, despite severe challenges caused by lockdown restrictions, Dinakar managed to delivery Mangoes to eagerly awaited customers located various parts of the twin cities and also in Kurnool
Dinakar shared few thoughts based on his last few years of journey. He said, chemical free mindset should come from customers. Customers should note below points to encourage more farmer move to natural farming.
- “Naturally grown veggies and fruits may not look pleasing for eyes and all of them may not be of same size and shape. They should refrain from picking only large mangoes, as size doesn’t matter, taste does, and any way you pay for weight. If you pick only big mangoes, farmer will be forced to use chemicals to make them of evenly larger size. Nature always produces different sizes and shapes”
- “Patience is a virtue, when it comes to organic vegetables. Veggies and fruits are seasonal in nature. Asking for non-seasonal produce is like pushing the farmers towards artificial cultivation. If you want mangoes in April, what you get is chemically ripened, and those which are picked prematurely. Do wait until May if you want to naturally ripened Mangoes”
- “Be ready to pay a good price for natural products. For example, when everyone was harvesting raw mangoes in April end, I chose to wait. Everyone sold chemically ripened mangoes in market in initial days, but I did not. I waited for the right time. During my wait period, I lost some mangoes due to heavy winds. Due to these factors, I priced my mangoes at little high price. Please consider that it is a fair thing to do”
Here are the pics from Amba Farm. I am definitely inspired by Amba Farm’s story and wish to see more Dinakar’s in my state and in my country.