Zero Budget Natural Farming

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    • In Andhra Pradesh, 4 school girls have been trying to get farmers to switch to Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).

    What is Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)?

    • About:
      • Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is a set of farming methods that involve zero credit for agriculture and no use of chemical fertilizers.
      • ZBNF is a natural farming technique pioneered by Subash Palekar, a
      • Maharashtra-based agriculturist.
      • 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.
      • Recently, Andhra Pradesh government took initiative to improve farmers’ livelihood through zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) in the drought-prone Rayalaseema region.
    • Aspects of Zero-based farming:
      • According to Subash Palekar, ZBNF has four aspects:
      • Jiwamrita:
        • It is a fermented mixture of cow dung and urine (of desi breeds), jaggery, pulses flour, water and soil from the farm bund.
        • This is a fermented microbial culture that adds nutrients to the soil, and acts as a catalytic agent to promote the activity of microorganisms and earthworms in the soil. 
        • About 200 litres of jeevamrutha should be sprayed twice a month per acre of land; after three years, the system is supposed to become self-sustaining. 
        • Only one cow is needed for 30 acres of land with the caveat that it must be a local Indian breed — not an imported Jersey or Holstein. 
      • Bijamrita:
        • It is used to treat seeds, while concoctions using neem leaves and pulp, tobacco and green chillis are prepared for insect and pest management.
      • Mulching 
      • Waaphasa (aeration)
    • Need for Zero farm budgeting:
      • A large number of farmers found themselves in a debt trap after liberalization so to
      • pull them out of debt trap.
      • Seeds and other farming equipment are not accessible to the marginal farmers.
      • Conventional farming is a costly affair.
      • Zero farm budgeting will cut down the operational cost.

    Difference between Zero farm budgeting and conventional farming

    Benefits over conventional farming

    • It improves crop productivity and soil fertility by way of fixing the atmospheric Nitrogen.
    • The cow dung, urine-based formulations and botanical extracts used in ZBNF help farmers in reducing the input cost.
    • Agriculture share in GDP will increase.
    • Generation of employment opportunities in agriculture and allied sectors will increase and women would be empowered too.
    • Zero budget farming helps in beating Hidden hunger, as crops grown through this method have micronutrients.
    • Reduces disease burden on humans– crops produce are without fertilizers and chemical-free.
    • Reduction in Fertilizer subsidy pressure on the government, funds can be utilized in other areas.
    • Reduce the trade deficit with China from where we import a lot and help in the reduction of the Current Account Deficit.
    • No soil degradation and salination problem. Contamination of water is also a bare minimum.

    Challenges involved

    • Experts cast doubts over the efficacy of ZBNF in resolving agrarian distress in India as it is not tested on a wider scale and on all soli types.
    • The agrarian crisis is the major cause of concern like rising input costs, better MSP to farmers and falling or stagnant prices.
    • Even after implementation challenges associated with modern agricultural farming like issues like knowledge gap, availability of native seed banks, cold chain facilities, MSP, and marketing remain unresolved.
    • Marketing of natural products is also a major cause of concern.
    • Slow production of crops as compared to conventional methods.
    • Lack of Research and development, as most of the corporate sectors, are reluctant to invest in this due to time and output constraints.
    • Lack of irrigation and development in this process.

    Way Ahead

    • The government should play a more active role in terms of bridging the knowledge gap, establishing local markets and provisioning of inputs among others.
    • Local markets should be established in order to help farmers get remunerative price for their produce.
    • The government should offer cash incentives to farmers who take up ‘yogik’ farming, ‘gou mata kheti’ in order to promote zero budget natural farming.
    • Programmes like Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and Parampargat Krishi Vikas Yojana can cater the need for Zero budget farming.

    Source: DTE