A permanent resident of a very little village in the mountains in Lafughati; around and about 44 km from Shimla; a hardworking woman named Satya Devi has a farm. She grows cash crops, apple, tomatoes, potatoes, cereals. She has achieved success and is one of the most appreciated pioneer of ZBNF ( Zero Budget Natural Farming) in the state.
WHAT IS ZERO BUDGET FARMING
Zero – budget natural farming is basically a procedure or systematic method of chemical – free agriculture that is drawn from our very own ancient and traditional practices. This process is very effective in promoting soil aeration; requires minimal watering; intercepting topsoil mulching an mainly discourages the use of intensive irrigation and deep ploughing techniques.
WHEN WAS THE TECHNIQUE INTRODUCED
This method of zero budget natural farming was originally popularized and promoted by the famous Maharashtrian agriculturist and Padma Shri awardee Mr. Subhash Palekar; who was involved in promoting this in the mid- 1990s. He rightfully argued that the every day rising costs of external inputs such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides and intensive irrigation was harmful and had negative effects on the farmers. It caused wide scale indebtedness and suicide among the country wide farmers. Along with that the long lasting impact of the chemical fertilizers on the environment and soil is devastating in the long run.
WHAT DID HE PROPOSE
He explained that without the need to consciously spend such large amounts on these agricultural inputs or take loan; the actual cost of production can be cut off and the agriculture and farming practices can be transformed to zero budget natural farming technique; thereby putting an end to the debt cycle of the hardworking farmers and their families.
WORKING OF ZBNF
Rather than using chemical fertilizers and other such harmful inputs ; the ZBNF method encourages the application of a mixture of fresh desi cow dung and aged desi cow urine, jaggery, pulse flour, water and soil- on the agricultural or farmland. This mixture is termed as “jeevamrutha”. The mixture is basically a fermented microbial culture that helps in adding the essential nutrients to the soil. It also tends to act as a catalytic agent- mainly to encourage the activity of earthworms and other such microorganisms in soil.
ADEQUATE QUANTITY FOR APPLICATION
Jeevamrutha should be timely sprayed two times or twice a month per acre of land; after about 3 years the whole system is supposed to become self- sustaining. Also; according to Mr. Palekar; only one cow is needed for around 30bacres of land ; and that too must be an Indian Breed- not an imported holstein or jersey.
Another such mixture named “bijamrita” is used in the treatment of seeds; while a blended mixture of neem leaf pulp, tobacco and green chilli are brought in use for pest and insect management.
IS THIS ACTUALLY EFFECTIVE
It is explained and mentioned in the introduction about Satya Devi; according to her , she hasn’t used any chemicals since 2018. She says that her apples are a 100 percent organic, and are highly nutritious. She accepts that she may not be receiving the highest price tag right now; because consumers are mostly driven by artificial colour and shine. Apart from that she still makes a lot of profit because of negligent chemical fertilizers ; and also she rears a desi cow. So the entire method is absolutely natural and organic.
There are a lot of such success stories by farmers install villages from all over India which proves that this technique is somewhat leading the pathway to the future by increasing profits and helping the hardworking farmers effectively.
WHY DOES IT ACTUALLY MATTER
The indebtedness and suicide rate among fears has only increased over the years. Also; the national sample survey explains that around and about 70 percent of farming households spend more than they actually earn. This latter aspect leads to farmers causing self- harm. Now to control such harmful effects on farmers, the government has decided to achieve the goal of doubling the income of the farmers by 2022. A key aspect in the goal is ZNBF; and hence it matters a lot for each and every farmer.
As we step into the future; it is necessary for us to explore every possible technique to help the farmers. ZBNF is one scheme that makes us possible to have a vision for many such successful schemes that would not only help in doubling the farmers income. It will also help us achieve the goal of having a clean and sustainable environment ; one that the future generations will appreciate.