Agricultural sector includes a large number of people involved in farming practices. Many of them depend only on the income from agriculture which is not stable. Now after Green Revolution which saw surplus production of crops by the use fertilizers, pesticides, high yield variety seeds and increased irrigation, Zero Budget Farming is gaining popularity.
Zero Budget Farming or Zero Budget Natural Farming(ZBNF) as The Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO) calls it refers to “going back to basics” method of farming. As its name suggests it includes zero credit for agriculture and no use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This method was suggested by Padma Shri awardee Mr Subhash Palekar, a former agriculture scientist.
This method challenges the farming techniques of green revolution which affected the land on long term basis. The farmers are often caught in the vicious cycle of debt to meet their farming expenses. This includes high cost hybridized seeds, inaccessible and expensive markets,high interest rates of credit loans and changing market prices of crops. The farmers end up in debt of large amounts failing to repay. This has also resulted in increasing suicides at an alarming rate.
The four main components of ZBNF as stated by Subhash Palekar are:
- Jeevamrutha : It is a fermenting process which uses cow dung and cow urine. It helps in increasing the activity of micro organisms and earthworms. It also helps to prevent plant diseases.
- Beejamrutha : It is a technique used for protecting seeds or any planting material. It is effective in preventing roots from soil borne diseases especially during monsoon. This also includes cow dung as the main component.
- Acchadane- Mulching : This method protects topsoil, increases water retention and nutrient content. Deep ploughing is avoided.
- Whapasa- Moisture : It was proposed by Subhash Palekar that plants only need water vapor and encourages reducing irrigation,required only at noon.
The other features include inter-cropping or mixed cropping and increasing contours and bunds to prevent rain water. This method was first adopted by Karnataka, Mr Subhash Palekar along with the state farmers association KRRS introduced it in the state. Many workshops have been conducted on ZBNF to educate the local farmers about the techniques used. Many farmers have been benefited by this method. It is also cost effective as it does not involve large expenses and also maintains the fertility of land on long term basis. Many other states such as Andhra Pradesh have also started adopting this methodology. Thus till date ZBNF has been a success story.