India’s Plan to Achieve the SDGs
By admin October 5, 2018

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In May of 2016, a farmer named Subash Palekar won the Padmashri award, the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, for the development of the Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) model, a model he had been developing since 1986. The model was formalized in 1995, and quickly gained popularity among small-stakeholder farmers throughout India.

ZBNF was initially piloted as a formal program in 2015 in 50 villages across 13 districts in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The program has been extremely successful and popular with small stakeholder farmers and we are starting to see wide-spread adoption of the technique – in 2017 ZBNF was practiced in 704 villages in India.

ZBNF, as the name suggests, is a method of farming in which there is no cost of growing or harvesting for farmers. The model is built on four essential pillars:

  1. Jivamrita/jeevamrutha – applying inoculation made of local cow dung and cow urine to prevent fungal and bacterial plant diseases without any fertilizers and pesticides.
  2. Bijamrita/beejamrutha – a seed treatment to protect young roots from fungus and soil- and seed-borne diseases.
  3. Acchadana/Mulchibng – three different types of mulching to conserve soil moisture, improve fertility and health of the soil and reduce weed growth.
  4. Wapasa/moisture – soil aeration.

Materials for all four pillars of ZBNF are readily available for all small-stakeholder farmers. ZBNF farmers have low cost of inputs and, as a result, an increased capacity to increase incomes.

Its main goal is the elimination of chemical pesticides and the promotion of good agronomic practices. It is pesticide and fertilizer free and has been shown to increase yields, with some farmers reporting an 136% increase in yields. Furthermore, ZBNF helps retain soil fertility and moisture and is climate change resilient.

Not only has ZBNF been proven to work to build climate resilience and improve yields, it has also been found to have both social and economic benefits including increased soil conservation, seed diversity, quality of produce, household food autonomy, income and heath. Many farmers have also experienced reduced farm expenses and a reduced need for credit – with debt a significant problem among farmers of all size in India this is a major benefit of ZBNF.

Based on this success, in June of 2018 the Government of Andhra Pradesh announced an initiative to become the first entirely zero-budget natural farming state in India. This new initiative would expand ZBNF to 6 million farmers and turn 8 million hectares of land into natural farming fields.

ZBNF has also become an integral part of Andhra Pradesh’s strategy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh believes “the success of climate-resilient, Zero Budget Natural Farming in Andhra Pradesh will not only help India in meeting its SDGs but it can also inspire and transform the lives of millions of farmers across the developing world,” said, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu.

ZBNF has the potential to transform agriculture in India and establish a blueprint for inclusive agricultural that works to improve food security and the livelihoods of people across the world. With 14 of the 17 SDGs centered around the status of natural resources, health, nutrition and empowerment of women, ZBNF is believed to be an effective cross-sector strategy to achieve the SDGs.


Recommended Readings:

  1. Zero Budget Natural Farming in India
  2. This Farmer Won the Padmashri for His Zero Budget Natural Farming Model
  3. Andhra Pradesh to become India’s First Zero Budget Natural Farming State

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