Zero-Budget Natural Farming

Zero-Budget Natural Farming

This article deals with ‘Zero-Budget Natural Farming.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 and GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) means 

  • Zero Budget, i.e. Zero Budget means Farming without spending money to purchase inputs (seeds, fertilizers etc.). It reduces the cost of agriculture.
  • Natural Farming, i.e. Farming without using chemicals. Natural inputs like biofertilizers, earthworms, cow dung etc., are used instead.

Renowned Indian agriculturist Subash Palekar developed this technique of Farming.

Zero-Budget Natural Farming

Why in the news?

  • It was first introduced in Karnataka. Later, Himachal and Andhra governments also started to promote it.
  • NITI Aayog is promoting ZBNF.
  • Budget 2019 was also announced to encourage ZBNF.

ZBNF consists of following

It is based on the basic premise that soil has all the necessary nutrients which could be made available through the intermediation of microorganisms. It consists of the following.

  1. Beejamurtha: Seeds treated with cow dung and urine.
  2. Jeevamurtha: Soil rejuvenated with cow dung and other local materials to increase microbes.
  3. Mulching: Use straws and other organic matter to retain soil moisture and build humus.
  4. Intercropping
  5. Rainwater harvesting

Benefits of Zero-Budget Natural Farming

  1. Environment friendly: Input costs are near zero as no fertilizers and pesticides are used.
  2. Higher Yields: Yields of various cash and food crops were higher when compared with chemical Farming. E.g., yields from ZBNF plots were found on average to be 11% higher for cotton than in non-ZBNF plots. 
  3. Increase farmer’s income as it is not input intensive.
  4. Cut toxins in food, and ZBNF products are suitable for health.
  5. Improve soils and prevent soil degradation.
  6. It leads to optimum use of water and reduces water consumption up to the tune of 85%.
  7. Climate Resilient: Model ZBNF farms were able to withstand drought and flooding, which are big concerns with regard to climate change.

Challenges of Zero-Budget Natural Farming

  • Low awareness among farmers about ZBNF
  • Experts have also cautioned against the large-scale adoption of ZBNF as it could lead to a large-scale decline in crop yield and hamper food security in the long run.
  • Due to different Agro-climatic conditions in different parts of India, ZBNF cant be practised in all parts of India.
  • There is a lack of scientific studies to prove the efficacy of ZBNF.