The Journey of Zero Budget Natural Farming Has Begun with the Initiative of THP Bangladesh
Agriculture will be free of cost! Crop production will not require any chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Through agriculture, it will be possible to produce safe food, alleviate poverty and address the adverse effects of climate change. 90 bighas (approximately 30 acres) of land can be cultivated with just a handful of dung and urine of a single local cow, mixed with some readily available, cheap ingredients. Indigenous species of herbs will be used as pesticides. This method has been named as Zero Budget Natural Farming because the farmers do not have any expenditure in this method of cultivation.
The Participatory Action Research PAR unit of The Hunger Project Bangladesh has started working on this farming method as an alternative to conventional chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Which has already received a wide response among the farmers in the area.
In collaboration with SPNF Movement Bangladesh, three training programs on this alternative farming method were held on 11-12 May 2022 at Krishnapur Union Parishad of Patnitola Upazila of Naogaon District, on 31 May-01 June 2022 at Gangachara Upazila Regional Agricultural Research Center in Rangpur District and on 22-23 June 2022 in Ghagra Union of Mymensingh Sadar Upazila. The trainings were conducted by Rahmat Shahidul Islam, founder of Zero Budget Natural Farming or SPNF Movement Bangladesh.
The inventor of this agricultural method is India’s famous agriculturist Dr. Subhash Palekar, who received the fourth most prestigious civilian award ‘Padma-Shri’ in 2016 from the Government of India in recognition of his work. Thus, this farming method is also known as Subhash Palekar Natural Farming or SPNF in short. In the mid-1990s, he introduced the Green Revolution method in India as an alternative to the use of high yielding varieties of seeds, inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. At present, more than 20 million farmers in different states of India including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat are using this cultivation method.
Through his research, Dr. Palekar has shown that 98 percent of the nutrients needed to grow a crop plant come from nature. Chemical fertilizers are applied to compensate for the remaining 1.5 to 2 percent. This amount of nutrients can be naturally produced by specially preparing the soil so that the number of microorganisms in it increases significantly. Thus, there is no need to apply artificial fertilizers.
The two-day training program includes practical lessons on treatment of seeds with dung and urine of local cows, creation of suitable environment for soil nutrient and microbial growth, retention of moisture and carbon through mulching or covering the soil with crop residues after harvesting, proper drainage system to maintain the internal aeration or Wapsa condition of the soil, the techniques of making pesticides using indigenous herbaceous plants, as well as the techniques of using these pesticides.
The ingredients used in this method of cultivation naturally increase the fertility of the soil by increasing the number of different microorganisms, bacteria and earthworms in the soil. As a result of using pesticides made from the leaves of various native species of plants, frogs, different beneficial beetles and insects, bumblebees, bees, hornets and birds return to the lands. Thus, restoring the natural ecosystem will make it possible to increase the overall yield of cultivation and address the adverse effects of climate change.
The history of natural farming, examples of its application in different countries of the world, experience of those participants who are currently applying this method and the harmful effects of the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and groundwater year after year in the name of green revolution are also discussed in the training.
A total of 115 participants (male-96, female-18) from Naogaon, Rangpur and Mymensingh regions participated in the training program. The participants of the training have informed that they are already getting good results by applying the Zero Budget Natural Farming or SPNF method in cultivating paddy, various fruits and vegetables such as chili and mango.
After participating in the training programs, the participants have taken oaths to apply this natural cultivation method themselves as well as to spread and popularize this method among the other farmers of their respective areas. In addition, the participants have taken the initiative to include and involve 100 acres of lands, 100 Self-help groups (created as Gono Gobeshona Shomity or GGS, who are using their own analytical skills to assess their problems and identify solutions to come out of the vicious poverty cycle) and 4,000 people from 100 Village Development Teams with this farming method, within one year.
We believe that this new initiative of The Hunger Project Bangladesh to promote and inspire the practice of Zero Budget Natural Farming or SPNF will be joined and cooperated by the barefoot researchers, volunteer animators, women leaders and members of the Village Development Teams from all regions. We also believe that the widespread adoption of this natural method of cultivation will contribute in alleviating poverty, ensuring food security and tackling the adverse effects of climate change in the country.
The training programs were organized and facilitated by The Hunger Project Bangladesh officials – Mr. Shoel Rana, Senior Program Officer, Participatory Action Research unit, Mr. Asir Uddin, Area Coordinator, Naogaon Rajshahi Region, Mr. Rajesh Dey, Regional Coordinator, Rangpur Region, Mr. Mohammad Samsuddin, Area Coordinator, Rangpur Region, Mr. Joyanta Kar, Regional Coordinator, Mymensingh Region, Mr. Khairul Bashar, Area Coordinator, Mymensingh Region and all the Union Coordinators of the three regions.
The Hunger Project Bangladesh.