Topics covered: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Zero Budget Natural Farming
What to study?
For Prelims: Features of ZBNF.
For Mains: Significance of ZBNF, advantages of ZBNF.
Context: The Andhra Pradesh government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with German firm KfW regarding Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).
- The MoU is aimed at encouraging natural farming in the State. As part it, the government has taken a loan of ₹711 crore out of the estimated amount of ₹1,015 crore earmarked for ZBNF.
What is Zero Budget Natural Farming?
It is a method of farming where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero.
This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops.
It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers.
- Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. It reduces farmers’ investment. It also protects the soil from degradation.
Benefits of Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF):
- As both a social and environmental programme, it aims to ensure that farming – particularly smallholder farming – is economically viable by enhancing farm biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- It reduces farmers’ costs through eliminating external inputs and using in-situ resources to rejuvenate soils, whilst simultaneously increasing incomes, and restoring ecosystem health through diverse, multi-layered cropping systems.
- Cow dung from local cows has proven to be a miraculous cure to revive the fertility and nutrient value of soil. One gram of cow dung is believed to have anywhere between 300 to 500 crore beneficial micro-organisms. These micro-organisms decompose the dried biomass on the soil and convert it into ready-to-use nutrients for plants.
- Zero budget natural farming requires only 10 per cent water and 10 per cent electricity than what is required under chemical and organic farming. ZBNF may improve the potential of crops to adapt to and be produced for evolving climatic conditions.
Four wheels of ZBNF to be implemented in practically:
The “four wheels” of ZBNF are ‘Jiwamrita’, ‘Bijamrita’, ‘Mulching’ and ‘Waaphasa’, says Palekar, a Padma Shri awardee.
- Jiwamritais a fermented mixture of cow dung and urine (of desi breeds), jaggery, pulses flour, water and soil from the farm bund. This isn’t a fertiliser, but just a source of some 500 crore micro-organisms that can convert all the necessary “non-available” nutrients into “available” form.
- Bijamritais a mix of desi cow dung and urine, water, bund soil and lime that is used as a seed treatment solution prior to sowing.
- Mulching, or covering the plants with a layer of dried straw or fallen leaves, is meant to conserve soil moisture and keep the temperature around the roots at 25-32 degrees Celsius, which allows the microorganisms to do their job.
- Waaphasa, or providing water to maintain the required moisture-air balance, also achieves the same objective.
Government initiatives to support ZBNF:
Government of India has been promoting organic farming in the country through the dedicated schemes of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2015-16 and also through Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
- In the revised guidelines of PKVY scheme during the year 2018, various organic farming models like Natural Farming, Rishi Farming, Vedic Farming, Cow Farming, Homa Farming, Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) etc. have been included wherein flexibility is given to states to adopt any model of Organic Farming including ZBNF depending on farmer’s choice.
- Under the RKVY scheme, organic farming/ natural farming project components are considered by the respective State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) according to their priority/ choice.
Sources: The Hindu.