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Zero-budget natural farming in Andhra Pradesh

Zero budget natural farming in the drought-prone regions of Andhra Pradesh is helping soils to produce more, offering smallholder farmers decent livelihoods. Farmers' organizations together with the government provide the training. They encourage local communities, particularly women’s self-help groups, to take up new farming practices that transform the land. The practices make farmers more resilient and able to fight climate change. 

Background

The Government of Andhra Pradesh introduced Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) in 2016 as an alternative to chemical-based and capital intensive agriculture through its implementing agency Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS). The main objective of the ZBNF is to make agriculture economically viable, agrarian livelihoods profitable, thereby reduce agrarian distress through cost reduction and sustainable agricultural practices that are climate-resilient. ZBNF aims to reduce the cost of cultivation, enhance soil fertility, enhance yields, reduce risks, and protect from uncertainties of climate change by promoting the adoption of an agroecology framework.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh has launched a scale-out plan to transition 6 million farms/farmers to 100% chemical-free agriculture by 2024.

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) technology uses locally available resources to manage soil nutrition, fertility, pests, and weeds. The technology completely avoids the use of inorganic fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides. It emphasises the effective utilisation of water through specified methods and recommends less tilling, to produce higher yields. This farming practice asserts that ZBNF is resilient to climate change, reduces the cost of cultivation, and increases farmers’ income.

Universal Principles Of Natural Farming

  • Soil To Be Covered With Crops 365 Days (Living Root)
  • Minimal Disturbance Of Soil
  • Biostimulants As Necessary Catalysts
  • Use Indigenous Seed
  • Diverse Crops,Trees 15 -20 Crops
  • Integrate Animals In To Farming
  • Increase Organic Residues On The Soil
  • Pest Management Through Botanical Extracts
  • No Synthetic Fertilizers, Pesticides, Herbicides

Benefits

A study taken up in the implementation area reports the following benefits

  • ZBNF processes require 50%–60% less water and less electricity (than non-ZBNF) for all the selected crops. For the irrigated crops, ZBNF requires 45% - 70% less input energy (12–50 GJ per acre) and results in 55%–85% less emissions (1.4–6.6 Mt CO2e) than non-ZBNF. For the rain-fed crops, ZBNF requires 42%–90% less input energy (1.1–16 GJ per acre) and results in 85%–99% less emissions (0.5–11 Mt CO2e).
  • ZBNF reduces methane emissions significantly through multiple aeration. It also has the potential to avoid residue burning by practising mulching.
  • The cost of cultivation is lower in ZBNF for all crops by INR 3,000–INR 22,000 per acre, except in cotton (higher by INR 9,000, due to greater labour engagement). The difference in yield between ZBNF and non-ZBNF for chilli and paddy is negligible. For the remaining crops, non-ZBNF exhibits higher yields, with an increase in the range of 0.3 Mt/acre–0.7 Mt/acre. The net revenue is higher in ZBNF by INR 9,000–INR 37,000 for all the crops (except cotton), because of the lower cost of cultivation. Furthermore, non-ZBNF-based chilli, maize, and groundnut show higher dispersion (more risk) than ZBNF crops.
  • The study also observed a positive outlook towards ZBNF by the farmers, in terms of ease of production and health benefits.

To access the study report, click here.

Source : Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming  
 



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