From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : ZBNF
Mains level : Promotion of Organic Farming
Women farmers in the hill State of Himachal Pradesh are gradually turning to non-chemical, low cost “natural farming”, under the Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Yojana (PK3Y).
Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Yojana
- Launched in 2018, the State’s PK3Y is promoting the climate resilient Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF), also called ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’.
- Over 1.5 lakh farmers have been trained in natural farming in the State so far, with substantial numbers of women participants.
About Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)?
- ZBNF is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India.
- Subhash Palekar perfected it during the 1990s at his farm in Amravati district in Maharashtra’s drought-prone Vidarbha region.
- According to the “zero budget” concept, farmers won’t have to spend any money on fertilisers and other agricultural inputs.
- Over 98% of the nutrients that crops require — carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water, solar energy — are already present in nature.
- The remaining 1.5-2% are taken from the soil, after microorganisms convert them from “non-
Four Wheels of ZBNF
The “four wheels” of ZBNF are ‘Jiwamrita’, ‘Bijamrita’, ‘Mulching’ and ‘Waaphasa’.
- Jiwamrita is a fermented mixture of cow dung and urine (of desi breeds), jaggery, pulses flour, water and soil from the farm bund.
- This isn’t a fertiliser, but just a source of some 500 crore micro-organisms that can convert all the necessary “non-available” nutrients into “available” form.
- Bijamrita is a mix of desi cow dung and urine, water, bund soil and lime that is used as a seed treatment solution prior to sowing.
- Mulching, or covering the plants with a layer of dried straw or fallen leaves, is meant to conserve soil moisture and keep the temperature around the roots at 25-32 degrees Celsius, which allows the microorganisms to do their job.
- Waaphasa, or providing water to maintain the required moisture-air balance, also achieves the same objective.
Astra’s of ZBNF against pest attacks
- ZBNF advocates the use of special ‘Agniastra’, ‘Bramhastra’ and ‘Neemastra’ concoctions.
- They are based on cow urine and dung, plus pulp from leaves of neem, white datura, papaya, guava and pomegranates — for controlling pest and disease attacks.
Is it organic farming?
- ZBNF uses farmyard manure or vermicompost.
However, not all farmers are convinced about ZBNF. Why?
- Cost of labour: The cost of labour for collection of dung and urine, apart from the other inputs used in preparation of Jiwamrita, Neemastra or Bramhastra is quit higher.
- Bovine cost: Keeping cows is also a cost that has to be accounted for. Farmers cannot afford to keep desi cows that yield very little milk.
- Vulnerability to pest attacks: ZBNF is scarcely practiced. The crop grown would be vulnerable to attacks by insects and pests have already become pest-immune.