1. Agriculture World

Andhra Pradesh to be Cent-percent Natural Farming State

Hitul Awasthi
Hitul Awasthi

Andhra Pradesh is known as the rice bowl of India and is also the largest producer of fruits, eggs and aquaculture products. But, farmer distress, consumer food crisis, degrading soil health, global warming and climate change has urged policy-makers to come up with a more sustainable and effective measures. 

Lessons learnt from past experiences 

For eradication of poverty, the state government formed Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) in 2000. It identified agriculture as the priority area for focus, as majority of poor were dependent on it for livelihood. Keeping in mind the lessons learnt from previous schemes to address farmer distress a plan was formulated to promote chemical free, climate resilient and eco-friendly farming practice, thus leading to launch of ZBNF programme in 2015-16. 

ZBNF in Andhra Pradesh  

ZBNF is a bold step towards protection of climate, biodiversity, resources, farmers and food security. With launch of ZBNF, the state has now envisaged to become the first 100% Natural farming state of India. With Sustainable India Finance Facility (SIFF) to facilitate long term investments in the programme, the state aims at facilitation of transition of six million farmers from conventional synthetic chemical agriculture to natural farming by 2024.  

RySS (Rythu Sadhikara Samstha), a not for profit company, fully owned by Government of Andhra Pradesh, is setup for universalisation of natural farming in the state. Since 2015-16, ZBNF programme has been receiving funds through Department of Agriculture, but 2017 onwards RySS has been receiving funds directly to implement the programme.    

Studies at Andhra Pradesh

Crop cutting experiment (CCEs) conducted by Centre for Economics and Social Studies (CESS), have shown that a relatively higher yield and lower cost of production is seen in ZBNF plots as compared to non-ZBNF plots. Yield difference of around 600 Kg/ha for paddy, 635Kg/ha for groundnut, 173 Kg/ha for black gram, 2500 Kg/ha for chilly and 988 Kg/ha for maize was observed. ZBNF practices resulted in increased yields, as compared to controls, and proves to have a potential to enhance farmers livelihood in future. Although yield differences are non-significant, but ZBNF farms reported a significant increase in net income due to decrease in input costs

Promotion of ZBNF

  1. Multi-stakeholder approach

  2. Organized camps for ZBNF training with Sh. Subhash Palekar

  3. Established a dedicated team at state, district and cluster level. One Multi Purpose Extension Officer (MPEO) with three master farmers dedicated for each cluster

  4. Converged different schemes like Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and state plans for effective implementation 

  5. Funding from multilateral agencies like the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative (APPI), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations and IFAD.

Master farmers are the best performing farmers from among the clusters. They work as catalytic agents for quick and successful adoption by new farmers. It created a dedicated resource pool at the cluster, district and state level, speeding up implementation of the programme to become first 100% natural farming state. 

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