Zero budget natural farming gaining currency in State
By K Surekha – KOCHI
03rd January 2013 09:12 AM
At a time when farmers’ suicides are rife and many are dissuaded from taking up agriculture as an occupation owing to the reported losses, Subhash Palekar’s Zero Budget Natural Farming is becoming a big solace for farmers.
Farmers across the state who have resorted to this model of farming have begun to reap good yields and profits. Subash Palekar, an exponent of natural farming from Maharashtra, is happy with the response he is getting from the state.
“We have not conducted a survey, but around 10,000 farmers, mostly small-scale, have adopted the Zero Budget Farming. Around 400 farmers attended the workshops held in Wayanad and Idukki recently. Around 40 lakh farmers across the country are practicing this technique,” said Palekar.
The technique is simple and as the name implies, involves nominal investment. Dung from indigenous varieties of cattle and water management are central to the technique.
While beneficiary micro organisms are present in the dung of the indigenous variety cattle, pathogens that are harmful for the soil are found in the dung of the foreign breeds.
With the support of inter-crops, the main crop can be cultivated. One indigenous cow is enough for 30 acres, said Abraham Chacko. He has been cultivating cardamom, coffee and pepper and has achieved good results by following the Palekar’s method in Pathanamthitta.
Earlier, he was into chemical farming, which, after good initial results began to show a downward trend. He switched over to organic farming which was cumbersome and finally adopted the Palekar’s technique.
“I grow coconuts and nutmeg and other crops in six acres in Nemara. I invest around `1,000 for 250 coconut palms and get around `20,000 per month without any tension or hardship,” said Mathayi M Mathew, a retired engineer who has been employing the technique for the past four years. The earlier methods of chemical and organic farming was a big loss. Through water management, the watering of the plants are taken care of. “I make my own fertiliser by mixing cow dung, urine, jaggery and green gram powder in a particular ratio. After two days, it is fed to the soil. The manure should be used within a week. The manure can be applied once a month and it helps in the multiplication of micro organisms and facilitates the growth of earthworms, unlike the pesticides and chemicals that destroy such organisms. Every object lying waste on the farm contributes to the humus, which aids water retention. Thanks to this method of farming, my place is not drought-ridden. The wells in the neighbourhood have plenty of water. Moreover, I have not had to apply for any subsidy,” he said.
More farmers are turning to Zero Budget Farming which, requires the least investment and supports biodiversity. Palekar said that the last government was keen on promoting the technique.
“All the agricultural officers attended a workshop held in Kozhikode but nobody has approached me after the change of government,” he said.
Agriculture Minister K P Mohanan said that the government is promoting heritage farming and also Palekar’s technique. “We have been promoting Zero Budget Farming and also diary farming. By 2015, natural farming techniques will be adopted and the farmers can generate their own fertilisers, just like our traditional farmers did and help conserve biodiversity,” he said.