Zeroing in on farm budgets or zero budget natural farming: A perspective from India

The recent growth in traction for zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) in India should be considered within the context of the growing agrarian crisis, as the gap worsens between input costs (including fertilizers, pesticides, agrichemicals, seeds, water, electricity, labour and farm loans) and the final prices that farmers (especially small-scale farmers) receive for their produce. This provided the ground for the ideological polarization of farmers against moneylenders and sellers of fertilizers, pesticides, seeds and other inputs on the one hand, and against the alleged scientific apologists of monoculture and the status quo on the other hand. The moot question therefore not only addresses which farming method is superior (if there even is a universal solution), but also what combination of scientific (including scientifically sound traditional practices) and socioeconomic solutions are required and whether they are customizable for different farming situations to end India’s current crop farming crisis. This article puts into perspective the debate on ZBNF and affords readers the opportunity to determine their own answer to the question posed.