Zero Budget Natural Farming: Implications for Sustainability, Profitability, and Food Security

March 1, 2024

With increasing use of fertilizer and pesticides in the Indian farming system, and at many places in a very imbalanced manner, environment has been harmed. Soils are getting acidic with low carbon content, ground water is getting polluted with high nitrate content, and air is accumulating more nitrous oxide. In order to ensure sustainability of Indian agriculture, the government has been trying to promote Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), renamed as Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BPKP)1. It was mentioned in the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2022-23 Budget Speeches of the Hon’ble Finance Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, at 14th UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) by PM Narendra Modi, NITI Aayog and Economic Survey. However, the research questions for us are: what implication will be scaling up of ZBNF at a national level have on the sustainability of the environment, the productivity of major crops, the profitability of the farming community, and above all the national food security? In this study, we attempt to answer these questions with robust empirical analysis as well as field visits and focused group discussions with farmers.