ZBNF is suitable for all of State’s agro-climatic zones: Subhash Palekar

Natural farming exponent Subhash Palekar.

Natural farming exponent Subhash Palekar.   | Photo Credit: File Photo

Andhra Pradesh government has adopted Zero-Budget Natural Farming model and Karnataka is set to experiment with it.

Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), developed by Subhash Palekar, a 69-year-old farm philosopher from Maharashtra, has been generating interest in a large number of farmers across the country. While the Andhra Pradesh government has adopted this model, Karnataka is set to experiment with it. As the groundwork for launching ZBNF is under way, Mr. Palekar is confident it can ensure a minimum annual income of ₹3 lakh an acre for farmers.

Excerpts from The Hindu’s interview with him:

What exactly is ZBNF?

It means compensating the cost of production of the main crop by the income from inter-crops. Also, none of the farm inputs should be purchased from the market. We should be able to either prepare or get all these inputs at our own farm. More importantly, the inputs should not harm natural resources such as the soil and environment. Natural farming means allowing the self-nourishing system of nature to take care of plants. There should be no human interference in growth of plants.

Does it mean there is no tilling involved?

Yes. Barring a few crops, there is no cultivation. Plant nourishing should be left to nature. Nature has the capacity to take care of plants if there is no human interference. The self-nourishing system can be seen during severe drought. In such extreme conditions, the trees and plants grown by us within the farm wither away. But the naturally grown trees and shrubs on the bunds remain unaffected though nobody takes care of them.

What is its main ingredient?

We use a culture of micro-organisms made out of dung of a native breed of cows. One cow is enough to take care of farming on 30 acres.

Will there be any increase in yield in this system?

Yes, more when compared to that in chemical or organic farming. In the first year itself, you will get more yield and there will be some visible changes. Also, the ZBNF crops will have more value in the market as they will be free of chemicals.

What are the crops that can be brought under ZBNF?

All crops in the world can be cultivated through ZBNF, including coffee, areca, coconut and sugarcane.

Karnataka has 10 agro-climatic zones, ranging from parched areas to high-rainfall areas, red soil to black soil, and plain lands to Malnad. Will ZBNF suit them all?

Yes, we have different models for different agro-climatic zones. We will have different plans for the northern region that receives less rainfall and the areas in Malnad that get comparatively higher rainfall.

By the first year itself, I can assure farmers an income of about ₹3 lakh. This will be in the form of orchards that will have integrated farming. We can even have up to 42 varieties of crops in one acre. Roughly, this would amount to earning ₹25,000 a month. This will definitely reduce migration of rural youth to urban areas and bring back focus on agriculture as an economic activity.

Can ZBNF help revive the agricultural economy in States like Karnataka that are reeling under agrarian distress?

This will not only make agriculture a sustainable activity, but will also be an environment-friendly process. Being a State that has a large quantum of drought-prone land, next to only Rajasthan, Karnataka is bound to benefit from ZBNF as this system reduces water consumption.

Is ZBNF scientifically validated?

Yes. I experimented with it on a scientific basis for 12 years in Maharashtra before propagating it. Now, 50 lakh farmers in different States are following it while several countries in Latin America, Africa and South Asia, too, are trying it out.

The United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, and UNESCO have shown interest, and their officials have met me.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 7:10:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/zbnf-is-suitable-for-all-of-states-agro-climatic-zones-subhash-palekar/article24962849.ece

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