- In the recent past, there has been a global demand to shift to sustainable farming systems, such as Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).
- India, too, introduced ZBNF in its Union Budget 2019-20.
- ZBNF is a method of chemical-free agriculture drawing from traditional Indian practices.
- It was originally promoted by Maharashtrian agriculturist and Padma Shri recipient Subhash Palekar, who developed it in the mid-1990s as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s methods driven by chemical fertilizers and pesticides and intensive irrigation.
- Without the need to spend money on these inputs or take loans to buy them, the cost of production could be reduced and farming made into a “zero budget” exercise, breaking the debt cycle for many small farmers.
- ZBNF is also against vermicomposting, which is the mainstay of typical organic farming.
- Instead of commercially produced chemical inputs, the ZBNF promotes the application of jeevamrutha, a mixture of fresh desi cow dung and aged desi cow urine, jaggery, pulse flour, water and soil on farmland.
- 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. Only one local indian breed cow is needed for 30 acres of land.
Other techniques in ZBNF
- The ZBNF method also promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping, bunds and topsoil mulching and discourages intensive irrigation and deep ploughing.
Advantages of ZBNF
- Input costs are near zero as no fertilizers and pesticides are used.
- ZBNF farms were able to withstand drought and flooding.
- The planting of multiple crops and border crops on the same field provide varied income and nutrient sources.
- There is reduced usage of water and electricity, improved health of farmers, flourishing of local ecosystems and biodiversity and no toxic chemical residues in the environment.
- The inputs help manage soil nutrition, fertility, pests and seeds.
- The technology requires less tilling and completely rejects the use of inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.
States with implementation plans for ZBNF
- The Centre has sanctioned the proposals of eight States for support under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana scheme this year.
- Andhra Pradesh has the biggest ambition to bring one lakh additional hectares of land under ZBNF under the scheme, followed by Chhattisgarh, with 85,000 additional hectares and Gujarat, with 71,000 additional hectares.
- The Indian Council of Agricultural Research, which is conducting studies on the ZBNF methods practised by basmati and wheat farmers in Modipuram (Uttar Pradesh), Ludhiana (Punjab), Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) and Kurukshetra (Haryana), evaluating the impact on productivity, economics and soil health including soil organic carbon and soil fertility.
Why in News?
- The Prime Minister is set to promote the ZBNF’s benefits and provide more details on the strategies to implement it at a national conclave in Anand, Gujarat.