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Zero Budget Natural Farming, how it works? How can it help reduce agricultural indebtedness?

Zero Budget Natural Farming, how it works? How can it help reduce agricultural indebtedness?

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  • GS 3 || Economy || Agriculture || Agricultural Production & Productivity

Why in the news?

Zero Budget Natural Farming and its working method.

What is Zero budget natural farming?

Using no credit and spending no money on purchased inputs is referred to as a “zero budget.” ‘Natural farming’ refers to farming that is done in harmony with nature and without the usage of fertilisers. A set of farming systems involving zero credit for agriculture and no usage of chemical fertilisers is known as zero budget farming. The four-wheels of zero budget natural farming-

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

Benefits of Zero budget natural farming are as follow:

  • Low input costs: In its current structure, agriculture forces farmers to rely extensively on inorganic external chemical inputs like fertilisers and insecticides. Zero-budget farming claims to break the cycle of debt for desperate farmers by eliminating the need for loans and lowering production expenses.
  • Higher yields: Farmers who practise ZBNF obtain higher yields in addition to lower input costs. Yields of five crops (paddy, groundnut, black gramme, maize, and chilies) have increased by 8-32% for ZBNF farmers in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Increased Net Income: Farmers will see an increase in net income, which will improve their cash flow and maybe improve their ability to deal with economic shocks. Crop-cutting trials conducted in 2016 and 2017 show that ZBNF farmers in Andhra Pradesh earn higher net incomes and have more spare money. Farmers who are vulnerable to economic shocks have a valuable safety net in place to protect them from short-term shocks.
  • Food and nutritional security: It will be possible to improve food and nutritional security at the national level as a result of increasing crop yields.
  • Environmental advantages: There are no health risks because no chemical or organic elements are employed in the farming process. Mono-cropping and other common agricultural techniques reduce soil moisture content, putting great strain on water supplies. The widespread usage of ZBNF would aid in the reduction of dangerous chemical releases into the air, water, and soil.
  • Soil fertility: It is based solely on natural resources. As a result, the earth becomes more fertile. Fertilizers and insecticides have been found to have negative consequences for both farmers and consumers.
  • Water-efficient: ZBNF can assist reduce groundwater over-extraction, permit aquifer recharge, and eventually contribute to rising water table levels.
  • Climatic resilient: By enhancing the fertility and firmness of the soil, ZBNF may be able to assist farmers in building resilience against harsh climate disasters. Crop losses due to droughts, floods, and other extreme events were lower on ZBNF farms than on non-ZBNF farms.
  • Reduce Ocean acidification: Zero-budget natural farming avoids the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and thereby helps to prevent ocean acidification and marine pollution caused by land-based activities.

Challenges associated with Zero budget natural farming:

  • Agrarian distress: The efficacy of ZBNF in addressing agrarian distress in India is questionable because it has not been tried on a larger scale or on all soil
  • MSP for farmers: The government should begin by addressing the factors that contributed to the agrarian crisis, such as increased input costs, better MSP for farmers, and decreasing or stagnant prices.
  • Modern agricultural farming concerns: Even if ZBNF is adopted, modern agricultural farming concerns such as the knowledge gap, the availability of native seed banks, cold chain facilities, MSP, and marketing issues would remain unsolved.
  • Bigger role in bridging Farmers: in the ZBNF want the government to have a bigger role in bridging the knowledge gap, establishing local markets, and providing inputs, among other things.
  • No formal policies: Other than that, there are no formal policies that promote ZBNF. A good policy is required. Government efforts should be increased, and subsidies should be used to promote and incentivize zero-budget farming.
  • Marketing is a unique problem. Many farmers sell their natural produce to private dealers or the government at wholesale prices, as if it were chemically grown. Other farmers rely on their own local marketing networks, such as organic shops and private clients, but regulatory assistance is critical in this area.

What role can zero-budget natural farming play at the national level?

In the years since, methods for promoting the Green Revolution and farming have resulted in-

  • Local agro-biodiversity and traditional knowledge are rapidly vanishing.
  • Seed sovereignty is being eroded.
  • Purchase of proprietary seeds, insecticides, and herbicides has become more reliant on credit.
  • Farmers’ indebtedness as a result of low monetary returns from agriculture.
  • Productivity stagnation.
  • Agricultural products have a low monetary worth.

Way Forward

There are a slew of structural marketing challenges that must be addressed before attempting to reach ZBNF’s lofty ambition. For example,

  • Strengthening agricultural market infrastructure,
  • Including all food grain and non-foodgrain crops in the procurement procedure for all states.
  • Implementation of a price-deficiency payment mechanism for a limited number of crops.
  • Fixing minimum support prices (MSP) in accordance with agricultural costs.
  • Agricultural commodity export minimum prices should be abolished.
  • Immediate action is required to enact laws on the “right to sell at MSP.”
  • MGNREGS must also be tied to farm work in order to lower cultivation costs, which have risen at a higher rate in recent years.

Mains oriented question:

Examine how Zero Budget Natural Farming will help farmers achieve their aim of doubling their revenue by 2022. (200 words)