Major changes in temperature, precipitation or wind patterns that occur over several decades or longer can disrupt food availability, reduce access to food and affect food quality. As a solution to this problem, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government will promote Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) methods, as they are said to be more resilient to climatic changes and have more nutritious yields. It enables farmers to shift out of chemical-input based agriculture to low-cost non-chemical farming. Instead of one crop, they can grow many types of crops in one harvesting period.
In this episode of Climate Emergency, a podcast hosted by Rakesh Kamal, Suno India reporter Vaishali speaks with Ramprasad Sana, an Indian agriculturist from Centre for Sustainable Agriculture who coined and practised Zero Budget Natural Farming. He delineates what it takes to practice climate-resilient farming, in the context of arid and semi-arid regions of Andhra Pradesh.
“Climate Resilience is an ode to natural farming because, in India, 60% of the farmers are most affected due to Climate Change. Climate Change should not have an effect on the Economy of Farmers. So, support is needed for the farmers on several fronts. One is how we can have access to water or have access to the seed system, and how much we can access in the form of other supports like market evaluation and crop management.”
Ramprasad Sana shares with us how farmers are safeguarded against any of the external factors and are ensured that the farming will be climate-resilient. He also walks us through the benefits of using drought-tolerant varieties and emphasizes the fact that in this natural farming system, the aim is at the type of seed that can be resilient to climate change scenarios. He also shares different ways of poly-cropping with us and tells us how advantageous it is in comparison to harvesting a single crop.
Further, in this episode, we learn how poly-cropping changes the export patterns and economics involved in agriculture and also how this form of cropping helps us in reducing environmental risks.
“The environmental risks in this type of system are a lot less than micro-cropping, as the use of fertilizers and chemicals are reduced. The reduction in pest control methods is because of the diversity of insects due to the growth of different forms of crops.”
Talking about the various effects this program has with respect to government policies, he throws light on the fact that for natural farming, support is drawn from the central government. The State government is supporting the program by deploying agricultural departmental personnel in each district, agricultural director and Mandal coordinators in designated clusters. The importance of funding for this project is also emphasized.
“Funding is an essential step, and funding support is required at each and every aspect because this is only possible when there are support systems for each of these areas like soil and water consumption, seed systems, and infrastructure.”
All in all, he elucidates the various aspects like soil quality and health, multilayered poly-cropping method, government policies, funding, solar energy, and all the other factors that have led to the success of Zero Budget Natural Farming.
To have a more insightful understanding of what it takes to practice climate-resilient farming, you can listen to a more detailed episode of the podcast here:
For more engaging content, you can listen to “Climate Emergency” which will bring to the fore and discuss the growing impact of climate change. This podcast will highlight and celebrate climate champions—individuals and communities who are undoing the damage done so far.