Zero Budget Natural Farming: ZBNF Full Form, Summary and Benefits

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is a method of chemical-free agriculture that is drawn from traditional Indian practices. In ZBNF, the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero (where intercropping covers the cost incurred by the farmers). Zero Budget Natural Farming aims to bring down the cost of production to nearly and return to the era of the pre-green revolution of farming.

Zero Budget Natural Farming supports the idea of natural farming, where they won’t be any expensive inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. It is important to understand the Zero Budget Natural Farming concept through the summary we have provided in this article. The article also covers broad topics such as ZBNF Full Form, benefits, and challenges, along with the four pillars of Zero Budget Natural Farming.

Zero Budget Natural Farming

Zero Budget Natural Farming is the procedure of chemical-free agriculture that would end a reliance on loans and cut the cost of production and the debt cycle for the farmers.

  • Zero Budget Natural Farming relies on agroecology- an application of ecological concepts and principles of farming. With the right implementation of ZBNF, the cost of production will decrease as well as the quality of foods will enhance.
  • Here the word “Budget” indicates expenses and credit, and the phrase “ Zero Budget” means without spending any money on purchased inputs and credit. “ Natural Farming” promotes the idea of farming in a natural way without chemicals.

Concept of Zero Budget Natural Farming

First, the concept of Zero Budget Natural Farming was introduced by Subash Palekar (Indian Agriculturist and Padma Shri Recipient) in the Mid-1990s.

  • Subash Palekar is known as the father of Zero Budget Natural Farming. He developed it as an alternative to the Green Revolution methods.

Subash Palekar put the following points in support of Zero Budget Natural Farming:

  • Lakhs of farmers use Zero Budget Natural Farming in various agro-climatic zones and soil types.
  • ZBNF makes farming sustainable and profitable as well.
  • There is everything present in nature to grow a plant. No chemicals are required to grow a plant.
  • A large number of farmers are already using Zero Budget Natural Farming as a tool that can free them from defaults and debts.

Principles of Zero Budget Natural Farming

To achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, agricultural expenses must be reduced, and natural farming methods like ZBNF must be encouraged to lessen farmers’ reliance on outside inputs like chemical fertilizers, insecticides, etc. The Principles of Zero Budget Natural Farming include:

  • No external inputs
  • Water and moisture conservation
  • Pest management through botanical extracts
  • Soil to be covered with crops 365 days (Living Root)
  • Minimal disturbance of Soil
  • No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides
  • Increase organic residues on the soil
  • Use indigenous seed
  • Biostimulants as necessary catalysts
  • Integrate animals into farming
  • Integration of trees into the farm
  • Mixed cropping

ZBNF Full Form

The ZBNF Full Form is Zero Budget Natural Farming. Some interesting facts about Zero Budget Natural Farming are:

  • Jeevamrutha is applied in the ZBNF, and it helps in the addition of nutrients in the soil. Additionally, it enhances the microbial activities in the soil.
  • Almost 200 liters of Jeevamrutha is sprayed per acre of land twice a month. After three years, the soil becomes self-sustaining.
  • Keeping the benefits in mind, Andhra Pradesh has decided to become India’s first state to practice 100% natural farming by 2024.

Zero Budget Natural Farming UPSC Notes

Four Pillars of Zero Budget Natural Farming

By multiple aerations, Zero Budget Natural Farming greatly lowers methane emissions. Mulching techniques may also help to prevent residue burning. In ZBNF, agricultural costs are lower. The four pillars of ZBNF are as follows:

  • Jeevamrutha– It is prepared by mixing fresh cow dung and aged cow urine (both from India’s indigenous cow breed), jaggery, water, pulse flour, and soil; to be applied on farmland.
  • Bijamrita– a concoction of neem pulp & leaves, green chilies, and tobacco prepared for pest and insect management. It can be used to treat seeds as well.
  • Whapasa– a condition where both water and air molecules are present in the soil, which reduces the irrigation requirement.
  • Acchadana (Mulching)- Protects the topsoil during cultivation and does not destroy it by tilling.

Need for Zero Budget Natural Farming

One of the biggest reasons behind the need for Zero Budget Natural Farming was the rising cost of external inputs causing indebtedness and suicide among the farmers.

  • Additionally, the impact of chemicals on the soil is devastating.
  • The need for Zero Budget Natural Farming intensified because it promotes farming that doesn’t require high production costs, it can break the debt cycle for small farmers. Furthermore, it doesn’t take a toll on the environment.
  • ZBNF promotes soil aeration and intercropping and requires minimal watering and bunds.

Surveys Supporting Zero Budget Natural Farming

The surveys supporting ZBNF are as follows:

  • According to the data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), almost 70% of agricultural households spend more than they earn.
  • The Economic Survey has also highlighted the ecological benefits of Zero Budget Natural Farming.
  • The FAO also supports the ZBNF methodologies.

Farmer’s Income Through ZBNF

The best thing about Zero Budget Natural Farming is the cost of production is zero, and farmers don’t have to buy any inputs in order to start this farming. Zero budget farming model brings down farm expenditure to a great extent and ends dependence on farm loans. It also reduces dependence on purchased inputs as it encourages the use of its own seeds and locally available natural fertilizers, and farming is done in synchronization with nature.

Natural Farming vs. Organic Farming

In organic farming, organic manures and fertilizers are used, but in natural farming, there is no use of organic fertilizers or chemical fertilizers.

  • Organic farming can be expensive due to the requirements of bulk manures, whereas natural farming is an extremely low-cost farming method.
  • Organic farming requires basic agro practices like the mixing of manure, plowing, tilling, weeding, etc., but in natural farming, there is no use of these methods.

Zero Budget Natural Farming – Challenges

Zero Budget Natural Farming is not accepted in the scientific community. As per the National Academy of Agricultural Science, India can’t rely on Zero Budget Natural Farming as there is no scientific proof of the methods used in ZBNF.

  • Maintaining local cow breeds can be difficult. Also, the number of local breed cows is declining at a rapid speed.
  • The corps planted by the Zero Budget Natural Farming will face hurdles in organic certification which would result in difficulty in selling products to the organic brands.
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana brought to promote organic farming, had been allocated only Rs 325 Crore. On the other hand, the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, a flagship Green Revolution scheme, had an allocation of Rs 3,745 crore for the financial year 2019-20.
  • Sikkim, the first organic state, has seen some decline in yields.
  • Many farmers have returned to conventional farming after the drop in the ZBNF returns in a few years

Zero Budget Natural Farming – Present Scenario

Take a look at the present scenario of ZBNF:

  • The NITI Aayog has been promoting Zero Budget Natural Farming
  • ICAR, or Indian Council of Agriculture Research, is studying the Zero Budget Natural Farming methods practiced by wheat and basmati farmers in various states.
  • The funding shortage has also been examined in parallel with scientific studies.

To complement the Zero Budget Natural Farming, other aspects of economic ad structural marketing need to be addressed as well, which include:

  • Enhancing agricultural market infrastructure
  • Price deficiency payment systems for a few corps
  • Fixing minimum support prices in accordance with the cultivation cost.
  • Changing minimum export price for agricultural commodities
  • Increasing the procurement mechanism for all foodgrain and non-food grain crops.

Zero Budget Natural Farming UPSC

Zero Budget Natural Farming is covered under GS Paper 3 Syllabus of the UPSC Mains. The topic is extremely relevant for the Agriculture Optional as well. Practicing UPSC Previous Years’ Question Papers helps understand the paper pattern. Few important points to keep in find while preparing for Zero Budget Natural Farming are:

  • Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF) is the practice of growing crops without the use of any external inputs, such as pesticides and fertilizers. The phrase “Zero Budget” refers to all crops with zero production costs.
  • ZBNF, a farming technique, advocates cultivating plants in harmony with the environment.
  • Through the specific program known as Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), the government has been encouraging organic farming. This program supports all different types of chemical-free agricultural methods, including Zero Budget Natural Farming.
UPSC Notes
Human Development Index Jal Jeevan Mission
World Economic Forum Nanotechnology in India
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council
PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana G20 Summit
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