28 February 2022, New Delhi: Zero Budget Natural Farming is a method of chemical free agriculture which is drawing from traditional Indian practices. The farming practice is promoted by Maharashtrian agriculturist and Padma Shree Recipient Subhash Palekar since mid 1990s as an alternative to methods of Green Revolution which are driven by chemical fertilizers, pesticides and intensive irrigation. As per him the rising cost of such inputs are negatively impacting soil fertility in long run.
ZBNF requires no chemicals and the total expenditure in doing such farming is zero hence it is called Zero Budget Natural Farming
PM Narendra Modi announced that Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) should become a mass movement in his address at the valedictory session of the National Summit on Agro and Food Processing on 16th December 2021 and the 98th anniversary celebrations of Sadguru Sadafaldeo Vihangan Yog Saansthan in Varanasi on Decemebr 14, 2021. Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BPKP), a scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2022-21 is promoted for traditional indigenous practices including zero budget farming.
Zero Budget Natural Farming in India
Under Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BPKP) an area of 4.09 lakh ha. area has been covered and a total fund of Rs. 4980.99 lakh has been released in 8 States across the country to promote Zero Budget Natural Farming.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research through ICAR-Indian Institute of Farming Systems Research, Modipuram initiated a study on “Evaluation and validation of Natural Farming Practices in different Agro-ecologies” covering all the components of natural farming under All India Network Programme on Organic Farming from kharif 2020 at 20 locations covering 16 States
Centre has sanctioned support for 4 lakh additional hectares of crop land in 8 States for using ZBNF. The natural farming practice has also been introduced in the Budget Speech of 17th Lok Sabha in 2019 by FM Nirmala Sitharaman to aid Government’s target of doubling farmers’ income.
Government of Uttar Pradesh has proposed 98,670 ha. area in 35 districts for Natural Farming with budget of Rs. 19,722 lakhs. This would benefit 51,450 farmers. This also includes the Prayagraj district covering 1000.2 hac. area with 913 farmers.
In June 2018, Andhra Pradesh rolled out an ambitious plan to become 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
Government of Rajasthan has been promoting Natural Farming since 2019-20 as a pilot project through State budget. During financial year 2020-21, the scheme was executed in 15 districts (i.e. Ajmer, Bansawara, Baran, Barmer, Bhilwara, Churu, Hanumangarh, Jaisalmer, Jhalwar, Nagaur, Tonk, Sikar, Sirohi and Udaipur) of the State. Under the scheme since 2019-20, 7,213 farmer were trained at gram panchayat level training programme on different components of Zero Budget Natural farming (ZBNF) & 2,080 farners were benefited through subsidy on input-unit in Banaswara district of Rajasthan.
The Government of Himachal Pradesh has launched a scheme named ‘Prakritik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana by adopting ‘Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) (also called Zero Budget Natural Farming techniques). Upto 31 October, 2021 1,46,438 farmers of Himachal Pradesh are practicing Zero Budget Natural Farming under the State Scheme Prakritik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana.
Components of Zero Budget Natural Farming
- Jeevamrutha: (Mixture of fresh desi cow dung + aged desi cow urine + jaggery + pulse flour + water +soil): Fermented microbial culture that adds nutrients to soil and acts a catalyst to promote activity of microorganisms and earthworms.
- Bijamrita: (similar components as jeevamrutha): For treatment of seeds.
- Pest Management: Concoction of neem leaves, pulp, tobacco and green chillies for pest management.
- Acchadana: Mulching
- Whapasa: It is a condition where there is a presence of both air molecules and water molecules in the soil. Whapasa helps in reducing irrigation requirements.