Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment at the ZBNF launch: “Maybe the most exciting agricultural experience of our time”.
Photo: © UN Environment

04.06.2018

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The Government of Andhra Pradesh has started a project to transit 6 million farms to 100 per cent chemical-free agriculture by 2024. This large-scale Zero Budget Natural Farming could serve as an inspiration for agricultural policies across the developing world.

A scale-out plan to transition 6 million farms cultivating 8 million hectares of land from conventional synthetic chemical agriculture to Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) by 2024 was launched by the Government of Andhra Pradesh, India, in June 2018. This is going to make Andhra Pradesh a 100 per cent natural farming state.

The programme is a contribution towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on ‘No Poverty’, ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’, ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’, and ‘Life on Land’. It is led by Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS) – a not-for-profit established by the Government to implement the ZBNF programme - and supported by the Sustainable India Finance Facility (SIFF) – an innovative partnership between UN Environment, BNP Paribas, and the World Agroforestry Centre.

Economically viable smallholder farming

The project aims to ensure that farming, particularly smallholder farming, is economically viable by enhancing farm biodiversity and ecosystem services. The objective is to reduce farmers’ costs through eliminating external inputs and using in-situ resources to rejuvenate soils, whilst simultaneously increasing incomes and restoring ecosystem health through diverse, multi-layered cropping systems.

A further goal of Zero Budget Natural Farming is to create the social capital necessary for vibrant and inclusive agricultural production by establishing farmers’ federations and self-help groups, and placing farmers at the forefront of knowledge creation and dissemination.

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