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

Scaling out natural farming

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.

A blueprint for an inclusive agricultural model

An effective shift to a 100 per cent natural farming state with 8 million hectares free of chemical contamination will achieve transformative impacts in India. In addition, it could serve as a blueprint for an inclusive agricultural model, which takes into account diversity of people along with agro-climatic conditions and can be adapted to varying global contexts to reduce vulnerabilities to climate change.

“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,” hopes Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu.

The four wheels of the Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF): The founder of ZBNF,  Subash Palekar has provided four important guidelines: Bijamrita (Seed Treatment using local cowdung and cow urine), Jiwamrita (applying inoculation made of local cowdung and cow urine without any fertilizers and pesticides), mulching (activities to ensure favourable microclimate in the soil), and Waaphasa (soil aeration).

(UNEP/ile)

More information on Zero Budget Natural Farming

Watch UNEP Video Back to Nature: Sustainable agriculture in Andhra Pradesh

 

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