Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) come into being by Subhash Palekar, an agricultural scientist who promotes and actively educates farmers in natural farming techniques, ZBNF involves methods that require no cost input from the farmer’s side in terms of pesticides, fertilizers or even irrigation. Natural methods are used to retain and improve soil health, control pests, and increase yields. A farmer will also be able to produce his own seed, and natural fertilizers are created using cow dung, cow urine and other materials. According to Mr. Palekar, one native cow is all one needs to take up this method of farming on thirty acres of land.
Mr. Palekar hails from the state of Maharashtra and is fondly called the “Krishi ka Rishi” or the farmer’s sage! He has trained over 4 million farmers in the last two decades on these sustainable, eco-friendly farming techniques. He was honoured with the Bharat Krishi Ratna award and the Basava Shri, which includes the Dalai Lama and Anna Hazare among its recipients.
How ZBNF Works
Based on his experience with both natural and chemical farming techniques and his observation of nature, Mr. Palekar designed the following principles of ZBNF:
- Beejamrita, the treatment of seeds, seedlings or any planting material with a natural concoction to protect the crop from harmful soil borne and seed borne pathogens during the initial stages of growth.
- Jeevamrita, which is introduced once a fortnight into the farm to promote biological activity in the soil and make nutrients available to the crop.
- Mulching with organic residues to reduce tillage, suppress weeds, promote humus formation and enhance the soil’s water-holding capacity.
- Mixed cropping and cultivation of diverse species of crops depending on site-specific agro-climatic conditions, to buffer against total failure of a single crop and widen the income source of farmers.