In the first Budget speech of the 17th Lok Sabha earlier this month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman called for promoting zero budget farming as a step towards doubling farmers income.
- ZBNF is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India.
- ‘Zero Budget’ means without using any credit, and without spending any money on purchased inputs. ‘Natural farming’ means farming with Nature and without chemicals.
- Under ZBNF, neither fertiliser nor pesticide is used. Also, only 10 % of water is to be utilised for irrigation as compared to traditional farming techniques.
- Basic concept of ZBNF, which is different from organic farming, is to ensure that profit from supplementary crops is enough to cover the cost of production of the main crop.
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- According to proponents of ZBNF, due to neo-liberalization of the Indian economy, Privatized seeds, inputs, and markets are inaccessible and expensive for peasants. Because of the high production costs, Indian farmers increasingly find themselves in a vicious cycle of debt.
- In this background, ‘zero budget’ farming promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs, ending the debt cycle and infact move towards doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
- Promoting natural farming, will make farming viable and sustainable.
- It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved. The movement in Karnataka state was born out of by the efforts of Padma Shri Subhash Palekar in Karnataka.
- At present, around five million farmers are working on zero-budget farming in different states.
How it is Effective?
- A limited 2017 study in Andhra Pradesh claimed a sharp decline in input costs and improvement in yields.
- However, reports also suggest that many farmers, including in Mr. Palekar’s native Maharashtra, have reverted to conventional farming after seeing their ZBNF returns drop after a few years, in turn raising doubts about the method’s efficacy in increasing farmers’ incomes.
Source: The Hindu