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Current Affairs

Zero Budget Natural Farming

Date: 10 September 2019 Tags: Agriculture

Issue

India’s premier academic body of agricultural scientists has critisised Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), terming it as an “unproven” technology bringing no incremental value gain to either farmers or consumers.

 

Background

This issue comes into limelight as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the 14th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification mentioned that India is focusing on ZBNF as an alternative farming mechanism.

 

Details of ZBNF

  • ZBNF’s basic concept is that over 98 per cent of the nutrients required by crops for photosynthesis ,carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water and solar energy  are already supplied free from the air, rains and sun.

  • Only the remaining 1.5-2 per cent nutrients need to be taken from the soil and converted from “non-available” to “available” form (for intake by the roots) through the action of microorganisms.

  • Farmers must apply ‘Jiwamrita’ (microbial culture) and ‘Bijamrita’ (seed treatment solution), besides ‘Mulching’ (covering plants with a layer of dried straw or fallen leaves) and ‘Waaphasa’ (giving water outside the plant’s canopy) to maintain the right soil temperature-moisture-air balance and enable the microorganisms do their jobs.

  • For insect and pest management, ZBNF recommends use of ‘Agniastra’, ‘Brahmastra’ and ‘Neemastra’, which, like ‘Jiwamrita’ and ‘Bijamrita’, are mixtures based mainly on urine and dung from desi cows.

  • Since these also do not have to be purchased, it makes farming practically “zero-budget”.

 

Drawbacks of technology

  • Plant growth and crop yields require nitrogen, which is a major component of amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. Being non-reactive, atmospheric nitrogen has to be fixed into a plant-usable form such as ammonia or urea.

  • This technique does not mention the method to supplement for nitogen, which has to be applied externally through fertilisers.

  • There has not been widespread trials, which can throw light on its overall impact.