Agri Business

‘To double farmers’ income, ZBF is the answer’

K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on July 08, 2019 Published on July 08, 2019

Zero Budget Farming (ZBF), a farm practice that calls for use of natural resources and no chemicals, got a shot in the arm when Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced support for this technique in her maiden Budget speech on Friday. Subhash Palekar, an agriculturist, who is among the top proponents of ZBF in the country, has already converted over 50 lakh farmers into practising what he prefers to call ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)’. Palekar is currently in Shimla training a fresh batch of farmers in ZBNF. In an telephonic interaction with BusinessLine, he spoke about the advantages of the technique. Excerpts:

What is your reaction to the Centre’s decision on ZBF?

It’s a historic decision by the Union government. The Green Revolution has created several problems but has solved none. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his previous tenure, announced that the income of the farmers would be doubled. But the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has not come out with any solution to achieve this target.

Chemicals can’t help increase incomes. Organic farming, too, is very costly and will not be of much help.It also does not ensure any increase in production.

The government must have done some research and found that ZBF could provide solutions to the problems in agriculture. They found that Subhash Palekar’s method is best suited to double farmers’ incomes.

What is ZBF and what are its advantages?

I call it Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) and not ZBF. The cost of production in ZBNF is zero as farmers don’t require to buy any inputs.

There are no chemicals or insecticides used. It consumes only 10 per cent of the water that crops consume in conventional methods. With one cow (for urine and dung) one can practice ZBNF on 30 acres and make profits from the very first year. One can make an income of ₹6 lakh an acre in irrigated areas and ₹1.5 lakh in non-irrigated areas.

How difficult is it for regular farmers to covert to ZBNF?

It hardly takes 10 days. We provide two courses of six days and nine days. After completing one of these courses, anyone can start practising this method. Results can be seen in the first three months.

Which crops are best suited for this technique?

It suits all crops in all agro-climatic zones. You can even grow apples using this technique. The low-cost environmental friendly farming method is being practised in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Chhattisgarh (among others).

Why should farmers take this up?

They will get more yields in the first year of ZBNF adoption. It drastically reduces their investment. They don’t need to go to money lenders as there are no investments involved. They need not worry about the rise in prices of inputs as they require none. Since there is no need for loans, governments need not announce loan waivers.

Unlike conventional agriculture and organic farming, ZBNF doesn’t result in emissions of greenhouse gases.

What are the key takeaways for governments?

If farmers practise ZBNF, they will earn more money per acre. This will help stop migration to urban areas and create employment for the youth. As Artificial Intelligence and automation are killing jobs, agriculture will be a major job provider if we practise ZBNF. It is the way forward.

I wish more States would take up ZBNF seriously to help the farming community.

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Published on July 08, 2019
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