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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS–Let the farmer choose

The Editorial covers GS paper 3 [Issues Related To Farm Subsidies & Msp]

Image result for  Zero Budget Natural Farming

Introduction

  • Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) has received an endorsement from the NITI Aayog, FM and the PM. 
  • India’s premier academy of agricultural scientists came out against this “unproven technology”.
  • They say that it brings no incremental gain to either farmers or consumers. 
  • Since the mid-1960s, India’s annual food grain output has risen from 80-85 million tonnes (mt) to 280 mt-plus. 
  • It has risen from 20 mt to 176 mt for milk and by similar magnitudes in vegetables, fruits, poultry meat, eggs, sugarcane, and cotton. 

What are the challenges?

Image result for  Zero Budget Natural Farming

  • A significant part of these increases have come from crossbreeding or improved varieties/hybrids responsive to chemical fertiliser application, and crop protection chemicals to ensure that the resultant genetic yield gains aren’t eaten away by insects, fungi or weeds. 
  • Without IR-8 rice, urea, chlorpyrifos or artificial insemination, the nation would simply not have been able to feed itself.
  • The basic idea of “zero budget” itself rests on very shaky scientific foundations. 
  • Agriculture can never be zero budget. 
  • Its propounder claims that nitrogen, the most important nutrient for plant growth, is available “free” from the air. 
  • But being in a non-reactive diatomic (N2) state, it has to be first “fixed” into a plant-usable form — which is what ammonia or urea is. 
  • Even maintaining indigenous cows and collecting their dung and urine in microbial, seed treatment and insect pest management solutions — entails labor cost. 
  • Crop yields cannot go up beyond a point with just cow dung that has only around 3% nitrogen (as against 46%t in urea), 2% phosphorous (46% in di-ammonium phosphate) and 1% potassium (60% in muriate of potash). 

Conclusion

  • Promoting techniques such as conservation tillage, trash mulching, green manuring and vermicomposting.
  • Reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and insecticides through integrated nutrient and pest management. 
  • Eliminating fertiliser subsidies to encourage their judicious use. 
  • Give farmers a fixed sum of money per acre, which they can use to buy chemical-based inputs or to engage the extra labour necessary for organic agricultural practices.

Source: The Indian express.