Zero Budget Natural Farming

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced,Budget 2019, that her government will promote Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) to reduce cost of production of farmers and thereby double their income. Subhash Palekar, who coined the word ZBNF,

                      The phrase ‘Zero Budget’ means without using any credit, and without spending any money on purchased inputs. ‘Natural farming’ means farming with Nature and without chemicalsZero budget natural farming (ZBNF) is a method of chemical-free agriculture drawing from traditional Indian practices.

                    It was originally promoted by Maharashtrian agriculturist and Padma Shri recipient Subhash Palekar, who developed it in the mid-1990s as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s methods driven by chemical fertilizers and pesticides and intensive irrigation.Instead of commercially produced chemical inputs, the ZBNF promotes the application of jeevamrutha — a mixture of fresh desi cow dung and aged desi cow urine, jaggery, pulse flour, water and soil — on farmland. This is a fermented microbial culture that adds nutrients to the soil, and acts as a catalytic agent to promote the activity of microorganisms and earthworms in the soil.

                     The ZBNF method also promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping, bunds and topsoil mulching and discourages intensive irrigation and deep ploughing.

Key differences between Natural farming and Organic farming:

  • In organic farming, organic fertilizers and manures like compost, vermicompost, cow dung manure, etc. are used and added to farmlands from external sources.

                   In natural farming, neither chemical nor organic fertilizers are added to the soil. In fact, no external fertilizers are added to soil or give to plants.

  • In natural farming, decomposition of organic matter by microbes and earthworms is encouraged right on the soil surface itself, which gradually adds nutrition in the soil, over the period.

                         Organic farming still requires basic agro practices like plowing, tilting, mixing of manures, weeding, etc. to be performed.

  • In natural farming there no plowing, no tilting of soil and no fertilizers, and no weeding is done just the way it would be in natural ecosystems.
  • Organic farming is still expensive due to the requirement of bulk manures, and it has an ecological impact on surrounding environments; whereas, natural agriculture is an extremely low-cost farming method, completely molding with local biodiversity.

There are many working models of natural farming all over the world, the zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) is the most popular model in India. This comprehensive, natural, and spiritual farming system is developed by Padma Shri Subhash Palekar.


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