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Vizianagaram: Farmers of Andhra Pradesh are forced to land in debts as their input costs are more than their income. They are spending more on fertilisers and pesticides to protect their crops. But by selling their produce, they get less income which is insufficient to repay their loans. Hundreds of farmers are committing suicide as they are unable to repay their loans.  Now the government wants to minimise farm expenditure. 

A retired IAS officer T VIjay Kumar was appointed as adviser for AP government for agriculture sector and co-vice chairman for Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS). As per their directions the government is implementing the ZBNF module, which minimises the expenditure and pulls out the farmers from debts.

So far the RySS has successfully converted 1,50,000 farmers from various districts into ZBNF and it aims to increase the number up to five lakhs in coming three years. In this ZBNF mode, farmers need not spend more on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

They can prepare Jeevamrutham made of cow dung and some other material which would provide more nutrients to the soil. Even they can prepare the insecticides by using botanical extracts.  As a part of this, they can earn some income from intercrops and border crops as well.

While just 40,000 farmers took to ZBNF in 2016, the number nearly increased fourtimes this year to 1,50,000 across the State. "We emphasise that the 'back to nature' approach is remunerative in the long run,' says T Vijay Kumar. RySS hired the  practicing  farmers already into natural farming as 'community resource persons', to spend 3-4 weeks in villages outside their native districts, and among fellow farmers.  

The main aim is to bring 5,00,000 farmers and 500,000 acres  into the fold of ZBNF in three years. For this the RySS has joined hands with some Non- Government Organisations and organising training programmes for farmers.

As of now, farmers in Parvathipuram Agency area are brought into this umbrella and they were trained. Farmers of Mantra Jola, Kondabaridi, Kothavalasa, Valasaballeru, Gorada and some villages in Giyamma Valasa, Kurupam, G L Puram mandals are practising the natural farming and getting good income.

Dr D Pari Naidu, Executive Trustee of Jattu Trust, which has been taking active part in promoting ZBNF, said ‘We have been promoting this in eight clusters in this area and farmers understood this concept. They can minimise their crop expenditure by minimum of Rs.4,000 per acre. 

P Ganapathi, a cotton farmer of Kothavalasa village said “I am happy with this ZBNF module. I am preparing Neemastram, Jeevamrutham in my own lans and controlling diseases. I am using the leaves, herbs, botanical extracts to prepare fertilisers and pesticides. 

By Koppara Gandhi