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Budget 2019 Promotes Zero Budget Farming: No Chemicals & No Production Cost May Double Farmers’ Income

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Zero budget farming – the term was alien to many until today when it was mentioned by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the presentation of the Budget 2019.

While highlighting the importance of “going back to basics” in agriculture, she proposed to popularise the concept of zero budget farming all over India, to boost production and promote farmers’ income, while bringing down investment cost as well as minimising the use of chemicals. “Zero budget farming can help in doubling our farmers’ income by the time of our 75th year of Independence,” Sitharaman quoted in her budget speech.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

No More Debt Traps For Farmers

In April 2018, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO) suggested this farming method to be replicated worldwide to combat the imminent agrarian crisis. Efforts For Good delves into this unique concept – technically known as Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) – a brainchild of Padmashri agriculturist Subhash Palekar.

Zero Budget Farming
Subhash Palekar

In simple terms, ZBNF ensures zero production cost for growing any crop. It negates the purchase of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, advanced machinery or privatised seeds to achieve the huge production demand. The high expense incurred at the very start of the sowing season often ends up driving the farmers into a debt burden, as they fail to repay their loans in frequent cases of crop failure.

How Palekar Came Up With Zero Budget Farming

Subhash Palekar, a graduate in agricultural studies, himself had practised modern methods of chemical farming till the mid-1980s when he spotted a gradual decline in production rates and quality, despite increased use of chemical additives.

After thorough research into traditional methods of Indian farming, he inferred that adopting natural farming methods holds the key to the future of agriculture. He formulated the four-step zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) following a meeting with legendary Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka. Palekar now holds a strong apathy towards chemical farming as he believes all necessary nutrients are present in the soil itself, as evident from our dense tropical forests with bountiful production, unless and until the natural soil ecosystem is tampered with chemicals.

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The Four Aspects Of Zero Budget Natural Farming

  • Jivamrita/jeevamrutha: A fermented microbial culture that catalyses the microbial activity in the soil, serving as a boost to soil nutrition.
  • Bijamrita/beejamrutha: Natural seed treatment with 100% organic ingredients to protect seedlings for diseases.
  • Acchadana/Mulching: Mulching is an alternative to soil tilling which adds biomass waste to the soil instead of ploughing which often destroys the soil retention capacity.
  • Whapasa/Moisture: Sustainable use of water and air-borne moisture instead of modern irrigation methods helps in conserving water, especially in drought-infested areas.

Read the details about the Four Pillars of ZBNF here: Zero Budget Natural Farming in India

 

 

The ZBNF Movement In Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh

The ZBNF movement was launched in Karnataka, in collaboration with Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) – the state farmers’ association. Estimates by UN-FAO reveal that nearly 1,00,000 farming families in the state have resorted to this method and achieved success. Later, ZBNF was officially adopted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP), considering it “very effective in addressing the uncertainties of climate change.”

The farmers across India, particularly in South India, who have voluntarily taken up ZBNF, are already reaping benefits due to drastically reduced production costs, almost negligible in most cases. It is relieving farmers from the vicious debt traps which often leave them at the mercy of unscrupulous moneylenders. Also, it is uplifting small-scale farmers who cannot afford expensive chemicals to enhance their production.

As of now, the ZBNF farmers’ movement works through a network of volunteer farmers, local leaders and independent activists at a district level. The participants coordinate with each other over each and every aspect of their individual farming activities. Additionally, ‘Krishi Ka Rishi’ Palekar himself continues to conduct training sessions across India. 

New Hope From Union Budget 2019

Through training camps, workshops and awareness initiatives, the ZBNF practitioners are actively promoting the concept. The recognition of the method by the Central Government as a crucial part of the Union Budget will definitely propel it to a higher level.

It is worthy to mention here that the government has also announced the mentoring of 75,000 skilled entrepreneurs in the agro-rural sector to promote agricultural entrepreneurship among enthusiasts from all walks of society.

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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