The Union Budget of 2020-21 has allotted an amount of 687.5 crores for the purpose of organic and natural farming. Zero Budget Natural Farming is another type of farming where the fertilizers are replaced by the manure. ZBNF also means no production cost or low-cost farming. In other words, it means that the farming in which there would be minimal or else, no production cost is required, is considered as ZBNF. Natural Farming stands for nature-friendly farming along with with the fertilizers free farming. Thus, any type of chemical is not used. It deals with the adoption of naturally available resources in farming. The key aspects integral to it and which require locally available materials are:
- seeds treated with cow-dung and urine
- Aeration of soil for favourable soil conditions
- cover crops, straw and other organic matter so as to retain soil moisture and build humus content.
- soil treated with cow dung, cow urine and other local materials to increase microbes presence.
- ZBNF was started in the form of revolution by the farmers on the ground level.
- Initially, it was started by the support of Subhash Palekar along with the Farmers Association named Karnataka Rajya Retha Sangh.
- In 2018, Himachal Government started the scheme named Prakratik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana.
- Prior to that, during 2015, the government of Andhra Pradesh launched ZBNF under the ambit of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana scheme.
- Zero Budget Natural Farming will help in increasing the income of the farmers.
- Farmers will also get rid of the process of taking loans.
- There will be a reduction in Soil Erosion.
- Zero cost eco-friendly facility will also be made available.
- Zero Budget Natural Farming will be favourable to all kids of Agroclimatic zones.
- In simple terms viewing the whole ZBNF structure, benefits are:
- reduced use of electricity and water.
- improved local ecosystems and biodiversity
- improvements in soil, livelihoods, water
- improved farmer’s health
- no toxic chemical residues in the environment
- climate resilience
- women’s empowerment as well as their nutrition
How is ZBNF better than organic farming?
- Organic agriculture involves materials’ addition required in bulk and has to be purchased.
- Further, these are in large amounts of vermicompost, manure and other materials.
- These are expensive for most small farm holders.
Steps taken by the Indian Government
- As per the tradition of planning of agriculture, an amount of rupees five-hundred crores has been sanctioned.
- Natural Project on Organic Farming has been provided with an amount of 12.5 crores in 2020-21 budget.
- Organic value chain Development of the North-Eastern region is being provided with an amount of 175 crores.
- According to the Bio Agriculture portal, along with the organic tag of agricultural product, the facility of organic marketing will be made available soon.
Concerns regarding Zero Budget Natural Farming
- lack in the field of research regarding the Zero Budget Natural Farming.
- Cost of cultivation will eventually come down after the adoption of ZBNF.
- The other concern is related to the yield or production.
- While ZBNF has helped in the preservation of soil fertility, its role in increasing productivity and income of farmers isn’t conclusive
- ZBNF requires the need of an Indian breed cow, whose numbers are declining at a fast pace.
- Sikkim is India's first organic state has seen a decline in yields following its conversion to organic farming.
- Many farmers have reverted to conventional farming after seeing their ZBNF returns drop after a few years.
Measures to be taken
- The need of an hour is to increase the yield per hectare of the land.
- Adoption of innovative methods so as to increase the yield in the primary sector.
- The Government is needed to invest in agriculture and should provide more irrigation facilities.
- Farmers are unaware of technological intervention and new farming practices.
- Lack of training and skill enhancement is lacking in agriculture.
- The government should provide its primary focus to the marketing of agricultural commodities.
- As the farmers are not able to realise the best prices for their commodities because of the intervention of the middleman.
- Moreover, the supply chain is under the informal sector.
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