During Budget 2019-20,Finance Minister has called for promoting zero budget natural farming(ZBNF) as a step towards doubling farmers income.
Zero Budget means without using any credit and without spending any money on purchased inputs.‘Natural farming’ means farming with Nature and without the use of fertilisers.
Zero budget farming is a set of farming methods that involve zero credit for agriculture and no use of chemical fertilisers.
ZBF reduces farmers costs through eliminating external inputs and using in-situ resources to rejuvenate soils while simultaneously increasing incomes and restoring ecosystem health through diverse,multi-layered cropping systems.
The ZBNF method also promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping,topsoil mulching and discourages intensive irrigation and deep ploughing.
ZBF also promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs ending the debt cycle and in fact move towards doubling farmers income by 2022.
A limited 2017 study in Andhra Pradesh on ZBF has claimed a sharp decline in input costs and improvement in yields.
However,reports also suggest that many farmers including Maharashtra have reverted to conventional farming after seeing their ZBNF returns drop after a few years,in turn raising doubts about the method’s efficacy in increasing farmers incomes.
Further,experts within the Central policy and planning think tank NITI Aayog has noted that India needed the Green Revolution in order to become self-sufficient and ensure food security.They warn against a wholesale move away from that model without sufficient proof that yields will not be affected.