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Zero Budget Natural Farming: Karnataka Perspective

Hitul Awasthi
Hitul Awasthi

Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) is an integrated farming system approach, whose principles are in harmony with the principles of agro-ecology. It aims to address various issues of farmers that act as a hurdle in their livelihood sustainability. Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), an association of farmers in the state of Karnataka collaborated with Sh. Subhash Palekar, to learn and adopt ZBNF practices. Since then, a series of workshops and training camps are being organized in the state to make farmers skilful in this sustainable farming technique. 

Studies: 

A survey conducted by Khadse and others in 2017, revealed that reasons like  

  • Family health, 
  • Food self-sufficiency, 
  • Environmental awareness, 
  • Reduction in cost of production, 
  • Reduced dependency on corporations, 
  • Debt free farming approach and 
  • Spiritual reasons encouraged farm households to adopt ZBNF methods.

An improvement in soil health, seed autonomy and quality produce was observed for these households, with a decrease in pest attacks and need for credit. 

Karnataka state is divided into 10 agro climatic zones, and as per the principles of agro-ecology a region-specific approach need to be adopted for its success. So the state has introduced ZBNF on pilot basis, by allocating a total of 2000 ha of land for frontline demonstrations, through various state agriculture universities and research centres spread across each zone.  

From a simple approach to a farmer movement: 

With attached benefits and perks, ZBNF has now emerged as a peasant movement spread across states. In Karnataka, KRRS played a main role in mobilising the farmers. 

At state level, the ZBNF movement members come from KRRS, local/ political leaders and Subhash Palekar. At local level, each district has its own way of functioning and all activities are carried out on voluntary basis. The main centrally sponsored and organized activities at state level are the training camps. These camps cover issues like philosophy, ecology, ZBNF practices and farmer experiences. 

With an approach to make farmer self reliant and prosperous, the ZBNF practices are gaining a great impetus in the society. With increase in education levels, environmental awareness and human resource development activities, more and more farmers are getting attracted towards ZBNF approach of sustainable farming. 

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