ZERO BUDGET NATURAL FARMING (ZBNF)
ZBNF is based on the idea that farmers can start venturing into organic and pesticide free farming without making major monetary investments. We at GVK believe that this is possible only by an uptake of natural way of conducting farm activities. When farmers do not need to make large investments in pesticides, chemical inputs etc., they are not forced to borrow money from middlemen and pesticide-dealers, who offer money at high interest rates that are anywhere between 24% and 36%. With conventional farming that result in high debt rates, farmers enter a cycle of poverty and many of them commit suicide since they are not able to pay back their debts. India has witnessed around 300000 suicides over the past two decades. Alternately, environment and soil quality due to extreme meteorological phenomena has resulted in limiting soil productivity and healthy crop cycles.
ZBNF will be funded by the government of Andhra Pradesh that wants to convert the state in a chemical-free state by 2025. As a part of the project, the government has entered partnerships with several NGOs from different districts in the state. GVK is among the selected list of NGOs and will spearhead operations in Kadapa district. As an operating government partner GVK will implement the projects in 5 clusters by selecting and training farmers on the field. GVK will also recruit and manage field staff, equip them with tools and trainings on the importance and practicality of organic farming and connect them with farmers, so they promote best practices in applying organic fertilizers and chemical-free, natural pesticides.
The project started in December 2017. GVK works in four mandals, and has two officers in each mandal. The officers meet farmers and tell them about the natural way of conducting farm activities and show them how to make organic fertilizer made out of cow dung, cow urine, jaggery and besan powder. GVK is currently working in Chinthakommadinne Mandal 8 villages, Muddanuru Mandal 3 villages, Khajipeta mandal: 4 villages, Valluru mandal: 11 villages. Crops that are grown in Khajipeta mandal: urad dal, groundnut, cotton, gramdal leafy vegetables, vegetables, paddy. In Valluru mandal: banana, papaya, mango, guava, chicku, tumeric, paddy, green chillies, tomato, brinjal, onions, toordal, sweet oranges pulses and curry leaves. In Muddanuru mandal: sweet oranges, papaya, banana, guava, brinjal, green chillies, onions, lady finger, tomato, matikkaya beans, ridge gourd, curry leaves, leafy vegatables, groundnut, toordal. In Chinthakommadinne mandal: groundnut, green chillies, tomato, lady finger, ridge gourd, bitter gourd, leafy vegetables, paddy, flowers Marigold, onions, banana, mango, tumeric and cow peas. Officers promote farmers to start nurseries of organic fruits and vegetables and sell the suckling’s to farmers. Where for one acre of farming for conventional farming the price of pesticides is 15.000, for zero budget farming this is 4.000. That means a decrease of 73%. Each officer’s target is to convince 70 farmers to convert to zero budget national farming, which means we are targeting a total of 560 farmers. Currently they each have 15 farmers under them, so a 120 farmers in total.
During the next 3 years the project will expand and GVK will work in Kadapa district with 2000 farmers for five mandals, for a total of 10000 farmers.