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Natural farming

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Agriculture

 

Source: DTE

 Context: As per a new study, Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) in Andhra Pradesh has led to significantly higher crop yield compared to organic or conventional (synthetic fertilisers and pesticides) farming under the state’s APCNF programme.

 

Findings of the study:

  • ZBNF yields were higher than both conventional and organic treatments in several districts in Andhra Pradesh
  • Immediate yield benefit observed after adopting ZBNF: This helped farmers on short-term land leases, as they may not be able to farm the same land every season
  • Nutrient availability remains unaffected in ZBNF: Previously it was thought that conventional agriculture (which uses synthetic fertilisers), increases extractable nutrient concentrations compared to organic and ZBNF treatments.
  • If ZBNF covered 25% of the total crop area in Andhra Pradesh, $70 million would be saved in fertilizer subsidies every year

About Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming (APCNF) programme

It was launched in 2016, for pushing 100 per cent chemical-free agriculture. It has worked with over 6 lakh farmers (out of a total estimated 60 lakh) in the state, on natural farming.

 

Issues with conventional fertilizers:

Intensive use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers comes with a number of associated risks to farmers’ finances, human health, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and environmental pollution.

 

Comparison between Conservation Agriculture (CA) and ZBNF:

Conservation Agriculture (CA)ZBNF
1.      CA is a modern farming approach that uses low levels of external inputs and emphasizes technological solutions for yield improvement1.      ZBNF is an approach that emphasizes natural farming techniques and no external inputs
2.      It emphasizes the use of cover crops and improved seeds2.      It places more emphasis on natural mulching and the use of indigenous seeds
3.      It is considered to be more cost-effective and economically viable.

 

3.      It has a lower ecological footprint and potentially higher carbon sequestration potential
Both approaches focus on soil health, water conservation, adoption of reduced tillage, application of crop residues and intercropping to minimise soil disturbance

 

Mains Link

 Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs, ending the debt cycle for farmers. Comment. (250 Words)