The Climate Resilient Zero Budget Natural Farming approach, led by the Government of Andhra Pradesh’s Department of Agriculture, is on target to engage 1 million farmers by 2019–2020 to increase yields and promote resilience through agroecological processes. It is a broad state policy with multiple objectives including enhancing farmers’ welfare, consumer welfare, and the conservation of the environment. The work is done through farmer–to–farmer mentoring, short tutorials and films, and modern communication methods.
Zero–Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), pioneered by an Indian agriculturist and Padma Shri awardee, Dr. Subhash Palekar, is built on four core principles: 1) BEEJAMRUTHAM: Microbial seed coating through cow urine and dung–based formulation; 2) JEEVAMRUTHAM: Enhance soil microbiome through an “inoculum” of fermented cow dung, cow urine, and other local ingredients; 3) ACHHADANA (cover crops and mulching): ground to be kept covered with crops and crop residues; and 4) WAAPHASA: Fast build-up of soil humus through ZBNF leading to soil aeration, soil structure, and water harnessing. These principles help farmers by reducing costs, increasing yields, reducing risks, reducing water required, enhancing soil fertility, promoting biodiversity, providing higher pricing, and enhancing resilience to climate change. This approach features: farmer–to–farmer dissemination of training and support; an agriculture ministry focused on building the capacity of farmers; community–based leadership and resource people, making ZBNF inputs available; building farmer’s institutions, especially women’s organizations; a focus on the very poor; and a strong information and communications technology (ICT) background.
Vijay Kumar Thallam, advisor to the Government of Andhra Pradesh, shares that it is extremely important to take unprecedented measures to tackle global warming and climate change. ZBNF is “smart” agriculture where farmers not only enjoy the direct economic benefits but also get resilient crops, improved health due to safe agriculture practices, and consumption of chemical-free food, increased biodiversity, soil and water security, along with ecosystem regeneration.