The Union Government is pushing the inclusion of Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) in the agriculture curriculum in various universities across the country. The promotion of ZBNF through a Natural Farming curriculum will be done at the under-graduate and post-graduate levels. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, too, announced the same in the Union Budget speech 2022 delivered on February 1.
The government is aiming to promote natural farming under the Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati (BPKP), a sub-scheme of the Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). The PKVY scheme and the BPKP sub-scheme were brought to implementable form after the two-day national-level consultation event, organised by NITI Aayog on 29th and 30th September in 2020.
Natural farming is an agricultural practice that prioritises the practice of using the laws of nature to conduct farming. Natural farming is a process of growth that does not include the usage of chemical and organic fertilisers and only focuses on natural fertilisers already present in the soil. The natural farming approach was devised by a Japanese farmer named Masanobu Fukuoka. Fukuoka introduced the concept in his 1975 book, The One-straw Revolution.
In India, the concept was promoted by Subhash Palekar, an agriculturist based in Maharashtra and a Padma Shree Awardee. Palekar developed the cognizance of people regarding the method in the mid-1990s as an alternative to methods of the Green Revolution, which were dominated by the use of external chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
The Zero-budget Natural Farming method involves the usage of natural fertilising abilities of the soil, with little assistance provided by natural inputs in the soil such as Jeevamrutha – a mixture of cow dung, cow urine, pulse flour, and jaggery – and Bijamrita – a mixture containing neem leaves, green chillis, and tobacco.
- How Will It Become A Part Of Curriculum At Universities?
At the National Summit on Agro and Food Processing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed and catapulted the method into the general discourse on December 16, 2021. PM Modi monikered the method as a “promising tool” in improving the farming in the country and the farmers driving the agriculture bandwagon.
Following suit, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) issued a circular directing various central and state universities to promote natural farming by including the method in the agriculture curriculum prevalent at the institutions. The apex body catalysed the discussion, after which, on February 1, FM Sitharaman, in her budget speech, addressed the initiative. “States will be encouraged to revise the syllabus of agricultural universities to meet the needs of natural, zero-budget, and organic farming, modern-day agriculture, value addition, and management,” FM Sitharaman said.
As per the decision taken by the union government, the programmes offered by universities in areas of agriculture will include topics of zero-budget natural farming, and the new, updated syllabus will be active from the upcoming academic year.
“The ICAR has constituted a committee for developing syllabus and curricula of natural farming at under-graduate and post-graduate level,” said Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, in a written statement to Rajya Sabha, reported news agency IANS.