- Recently, NITI Aayog has conducted a national workshop on Natural Farming.
- There are many working models of natural farming all over the world, the Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is the most popular model in India. This comprehensive, natural, and spiritual farming system was developed by Padma Shri Subhash Palekar.
- It can be defined as a “chemical- free farming and livestock based”. Soundly grounded in agro-ecology, it is a diversified farming system that integrates crops, trees and livestock, allowing the optimum use of functional biodiversity.
- It holds the promise of enhancing farmers’ income while delivering many other benefits, such as restoration of soil fertility and environmental health, and mitigating and/or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- This farming approach was introduced by Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer and philosopher, in his 1975 book The One-Straw Revolution.
- It builds on natural or ecological processes that exist in or around farms. Internationally, Natural Farming is considered a form of regenerative agriculture—a prominent strategy to save the planet.
- It has the potential to manage land practices and sequester carbon from the atmosphere in soils and plants, where it is actually useful instead of being detrimental.
- In India, Natural farming is promoted as Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati Programme (BPKP) under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY).
- BPKP is aimed at promoting traditional indigenous practices which reduce externally purchased inputs.
- Natural Farming, as the name suggests, is the art, practice and, increasingly, the science of working with nature to achieve much more with less.
- It is considered as a cost- effective farming practice with scope for raising employment and rural development.
- As Natural Farming does not use any synthetic chemicals, health risks and hazards are eliminated. The food has higher nutrition density and therefore offers better health benefits.
- It generates employment on account of natural farming input enterprises, value addition, marketing in local areas, etc. The surplus from natural farming is invested in the village itself.
- As it has the potential to generate employment, thereby stemming the migration of rural youth.
- It ensures better soil biology, improved agrobiodiversity and a more judicious usage of water with much smaller carbon and nitrogen footprints.
- By working with diverse crops that help each other and cover the soil to prevent unnecessary water loss through evaporation, Natural Farming optimizes the amount of ‘crop per drop’.
- The most immediate impact of Natural Farming is on the biology of soil—on microbes and other living organisms such as earthworms. Soil health depends entirely on the living organisms in it.
- The integration of livestock in the farming system plays an important role in Natural farming and helps in restoring the ecosystem. Eco Friendly bio-inputs, such as Jivamrit and Beejamrit, are prepared from cow dung and urine, and other natural products.
- The changes in soil structure with the help of organic carbon, no/low tillage and plant diversity are supporting plant growth even under extreme situations like severe droughts and withstanding severe flood and wind damage during cyclones
- NF impacts many farmers positively by imparting resilience to the crops against weather extremities.
The world’s population is predicted to expand to approximately 10 billion by 2050. It is expected that agricultural demand will increase up to 50%, in comparison to 2013, in such a situation a transformational process towards ‘holistic’ approaches such as agro-ecology, agroforestry, climate-smart agriculture, and conservation agriculture is a necessity.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT