Introduction to the ZBNF Model
The Zero Budget Natural Farming model is precisely what the name suggests- non-usage of external methods such as pesticides and fertilisers for farming. Since there are no external chemical additives, the technique becomes ‘zero budget.’ It ensures that the soil fertility is retained and that farmers have an increased margin of profits.
While this is ancient knowledge uncovered in India, the Union government of the country is actively pushing the agricultural-based economy to switch to this innovative model. It is also in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The movement is unique because it is a trust-based model where farmers educate one another and uplift each other to adopt this method.
The 4 Pillars of Natural Farming
The founding father of the ZBNF model stated that it stands on the following four pillars:
- Jeevamrutha (self-sustaining microbial culture through fermentation)
- Beejamrutha (seed treatment and disease protection)
- Acchadana (soil, straw, and live mulching)
- Waaphasa (moisture retention)
Why Switch to Zero Budget Natural Farming?
- ZBNF is believed to reduce the number of loans and debts farmers are under, help reduce the poverty level, solve the food crisis, and promote healthier food consumption.
- The crops are grown in harmony with nature.
- The method aims to reduce the suicide rates amongst the farmers and improve their overall standard of living.
- It reduces the average methane emissions.
- Several reports show the negative consequences of handling fertilisers and pesticides for a prolonged time.
- By simply removing synthetics from the equation, there is also a greater balance in the food supply of the economy due to increased sustainability.
- It reduces water and electricity consumption by over 50%
- The production costs are decreased significantly, but the soil health is also improved, farming goes in sync with the climate, water consumption is reduced, and finally, there is an increase in agrobiodiversity.
What We Can Learn and Adopt
As an alternate agricultural practice, this model also aligns with the climate change targets around the globe. What the rest of the countries can learn from this Indian farming practice are the fundamentals of the procedure:
- No chemicals are to be used, no external synthetics at all.
- The soil has to remain covered with crops throughout the year to ensure moisture retention in soil.
- Water has to be conserved.
- Go back to using farm animals and trees for farming.
- The best types of seeds for this model are indigenous seeds.
- Switch to mixed cropping and use organic residuals as much as possible.
- Avoid overreliance on soil irrigation.
- Use botanical extracts for pest management.
- Soil does not need to be disturbed unnecessarily.
As countries worldwide face an agrarian and acute agrarian crisis, food shortages, etc., such low cost and easy to follow methods are worth trying. No significant policy changes are necessary since it follows a localised sourcing and production process.
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