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Zero Budget Natural Farming

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June 23, 2018

What is the issue?

  • Andhra Pradesh CM announced that the State would fully embrace Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).
  • India could consider replicating the model for the country.

Technology is simply the systematic application of knowledge for practical purposes

What is ZBNF?

  • Zero Budget Natural farming (ZBNF) is said to be “do nothing farming”.
  • It involves the application of nature’s principles in farming.
  • It practises no-till, no chemical use in farming.
  • Alongside, dispersal of clay seed balls to propagate plants is done.
  • The key aspects integral to it and which require locally available materials are:
  1. seeds treated with cow dung and urine
  2. soil rejuvenated with cow dung, cow urine and other local materials to increase microbes
  3. cover crops, straw and other organic matter to retain soil moisture and build humus
  4. soil aeration for favourable soil conditions
  • These methods are combined with natural insect management methods when required.
  • The ZBNF is a technology of the future with a traditional idiom.

What are the benefits?

  • In ZBNF, yields of various cash and food crops have been found to be significantly higher.
  • E.g. yields from ZBNF plots were found on average to be 11% higher for cotton than in non-ZBNF plots.
  • The yield for Guli ragi (ZBNF) was 40% higher than non-ZBNF.
  • Input costs are near zero as no fertilizers and pesticides are used.
  • Profits in most areas under ZBNF were from higher yield and lower inputs.
  • Model ZBNF farms were able to withstand drought and flooding.
  • Notably these are the serious emerging concerns with regard to climate change.
  • Planting multiple crops and border crops on same field provides varied income and nutrient sources.
  • Overall, there is
  1. reduced use of water and electricity
  2. improved health of farmers
  3. flourishing of local ecosystems and biodiversity
  4. no toxic chemical residues in the environment
  5. improvements in soil, biodiversity, livelihoods, water
  6. climate resilience
  7. women’s empowerment and nutrition

How is ZBNF better than organic farming?

  • Organic agriculture often involves addition of materials required in bulk and have to be purchased.
  • These are large amounts of manure, vermicompost and other materials.
  • These turn out to be expensive for most small farm holders.

What is the Andhra Pradesh model?

  • Initiatives - Successful pilot programmes were initiated in 2015 and partnerships for gaining inputs were taken up.
  • With this, Andhra Pradesh has become the first State to implement a ZBNF policy.
  • Coverage - This year, 5 lakh farmers will be covered, with at least one panchayat in each of the mandals shifting to this new method.
  • By 2021-22, the programme is to be implemented in every panchayat, with full coverage by 2024.
  • Strategies - Tenant farmers and day labourers are being trained.
  • This ensures that through the ZBNF, livelihoods for the rural poor are being enhanced.
  • Farmer-to-farmer connections are vital to the success of the programme.
  • Establishment of farmer’s collectives such as Farmer Producer Organisations are encouraged.
  • Funding - The Government of India provides funding through the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana.
  • Additional resources have been made available through various philanthropic organisations.
  • Participation - Andhra Pradesh has supported and learned from its many effective civil society organisations.
  • This include Watershed Support Services and Activities Network, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Deccan Development Society.
  • The scaling up relies primarily on farmers and local groups; in all, very much a bottom-up process.
  • Open-minded enlightened political leaders and administrators have been fundamental in this process.
  • Geography - Andhra Pradesh has a combination of delta regions, arid and hilly tribal areas.
  • Thus the districts in Andhra Pradesh are similar to those in other parts of the country.
  • It could therefore serve as a workable model for replication.
  • The drought-prone Rayalaseema region (Andhra Pradesh) is reportedly seeing promising changes in farms with the ZBNF.

What is the way ahead?

  • The programme can have a positive effect on many of the sustainable development goals.
  • As ZBNF is applied in India’s various agro-ecological zones, making farmers the innovators is essential. 
  • Agricultural scientists in India have to rework their strategy so that farming is in consonance with nature. 
  • The dominant paradigm of chemical-based agriculture has failed and regenerative agriculture is the emerging new science.

 

Source: The Hindu

 

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