The ZBNF Mango Magic

Team : FARM REX (B.VoC Agriculture - first year / group 6)

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India. It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved. The movement in Karnataka state was born out of collaboration between Mr Subhash Palekar, who put together the ZBNF practices, and the state farmers association Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a member of La Via Campesina (LVC).

The neoliberalization of the Indian economy led to a deep agrarian crisis that is making small scale farming an unviable vocation. Privatized seeds, inputs, and markets are inaccessible and expensive for peasants. Indian farmers increasingly find themselves in a vicious cycle of debt, because of the high production costs, high interest rates for credit, the volatile market prices of crops, the rising costs of fossil fuel based inputs, and private seeds. Debt is a problem for farmers of all sizes in India. Under such conditions, ‘zero budget’ farming promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs, ending the debt cycle for desperate farmers. The word ‘budget’ refers to credit and expenses, thus the phrase 'Zero Budget' means without using any credit, and without spending any money on purchased inputs. 'Natural farming' means farming with Nature and without chemicals.

There is no qualms on why mango is considered as the king of fruits. The harsh heat of summer becomes bearable due to the unique taste and flavour offered by mangoes during the season. The diversity of mangoes used in Indian cuisine and its nutritive value makes it irreplaceable in the food chain.

In the recent years Mango has lost its uniqueness thanks to the artificial ripening of mangoes and treating the fruit with chemicals for early maturity. Due to excessive usage of fertilisers and pesticides the flowering has reduced to a great extent. Generally the flowering to fruiting ratio of mangoes is 5-10%,due to excessive chemical usage this percentage is decreasing drastically resulting into low mango yields per tree.

Chemically treated mango tree in Krishna District

Andhra Pradesh is particularly famous for ‘baginapally’ and ‘totapari’ varieties of mangoes with Krishna, Chittoor Vizianagram, West Godavari, Guntur as the major mango growing districts in the state.

The Zero Budget Natural Farming programme of the Government of Andhra Pradesh has started making significant changes not only in agriculture crops but also in horticulture. Mango orchards are now treated with jeevamrutham, practise of mulching along with Pancha Gavya and fermented butter milk.

Flush of mangoes in ZBNF mango trees in Krishna district

These ZBNF mango orchards are much healthier and the trees are covered completely with flower blossoms from the early days of the season. It has been observed that the fructification of the ZBNF mango trees are more than the non-ZBNF mango trees.

There was a reduction in rainfall in some areas in Andhra Pradesh during September 2017. It was observed that the loss in ZBNF mango trees was less than in non ZBNF mango trees. Even non-ZBNF farmers with better water facility faced yield loss.

Such evidence prove that the sweetness in mangoes is back. The quint essential ‘aam ka achhar’ (Mango pickle) is now safe for consumption due to ZBNF.

“Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.”