Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF)

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    6th Aug, 2019

In the recent Union Budget of 2019, ZBNF model has been emphasised, which can help in doubling farmers’ income. Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have been shifted towards this model.

Context

In the recent Union Budget of 2019, ZBNF model has been emphasised, which can help in doubling farmers’ income. Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have been shifted towards this model.

About

What is ZBNF?

  • It is a method of chemical-free agriculture drawing from traditional Indian practices.
  • Using cow dung, urine based formulations and botanical extracts would help farmers in reducing the input cost.
  • Intercropping with leguminous crops is one of the components of ZBNF and it improves the crop productivity and soil fertility by way of fixing the atmospheric nitrogen.
  • It promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping, bunds and topsoil mulching and discourages intensive irrigation and deep ploughing.

Background

  • It was developed by Subhash Palekar from Maharashtra in the mid-1990s as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s methods, which led to indebtedness and suicide among farmers due to rising cost on external inputs in agriculture.
  • During this revolution, impact of chemicals on the environment and on long-term fertility was also very devastating.
  • ZBNF would break the debt cycle for many small farmers.

Components of ZBNF

  • Jeevamrutha: It is a fermented microbial culture that uses urine and dung from an indigenous cow breed and paste of green gram to rejuvenate the soil to provide micro-nutrients to crops.
  • Bijamrita: It is a treatment used for seeds, seedlings or any planting material.
  • Acchadana: It promotes mulching and soil aeration for favourable soil conditions.
  • Whapasa: It provides moisture to the soil.

Why does it matter?

  • According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data, almost 70% of agricultural households spend more than they earn and more than half of all farmers are in debt.
  • In States such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, levels of indebtedness are around 90%, where each household bears an average debt of ?1 lakh.

Role of Indian States

  • ZBNF was adopted by Karnataka as a movement by Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha.
  • Andhra Pradesh became India’s first State to practise 100% natural farming by 2024. It aims to phase out chemical farming over 80 lakh hectares of land, converting the State’s 60 lakh farmers to ZBNF methods.
  • Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttarakhand are also planning to adopt ZBNF.

Budget Allocation

  • Norms to promote organic farming and soil health: Government has revised the norms for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, which has an allocation of ?3,745 crore and ?325 crore respectively this year.
  • Role of state: Centre allow States to use their funds to promote the ZBNF, vedic farming, natural farming, cow farming and a host of other traditional methods.

Way Forward

  • Multi-location studies are needed to scientifically validate the long-term impact and viability of the model before it can be scaled up and promoted country-wide.
  • An enabling institutional mechanism could be set up to promote the technology.
  • There is a need to enhance public funding support.
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