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Green Revolution 3.0 : Zero Budget Natural Farming in Andhra Pradesh, India

, August 30, 2018, 0 Comments

Zero-budget-Natural-Farming-MarketExpressIt is paradoxical that it is in a country like India that economists are so serioulsy taken the climate change subject head-on. Particularly in the equivalent of the Report on the Nation’s Accounts. The Economic Survey 2018 contains an entire chapter devoted to the impact of climate change on agricultural production and the income of Indian farmers, i.e. half of the working population all the same. The negative impact on production is estimated at nearly 15-20% and it even seems underestimated compared to what I have seen on the ground in Bihar or Andhra Pradesh.

In the latter state, a real emergency plan was adopted two years ago to combat climate change, the water crisis and soil deterioration linked to a disastrous agrochemical Green Revolution. It aims to convert the 6 million peasants of the state to entirely organic methods with Indian techniques developed by a kind of 21st century Gandhi, Subhash Palekar, the father of the famous ZNBF revolution or Zero Budget Natural Farming*.

Quite seduced, the new head of the Planning Commission, an economist and long-time friend, brought together urgently last July all the agricultural leaders of the Indian states to consider its extension to the whole country so catastrophic are the predictions of climate change. Especially since the state coffers are empty and can no longer continue to generously subsidize the massive doses of fertilizers and pesticides linked to the old “Green Revolution” introduced in the 1960s. It was supposed to bring agricultural prosperity to the country. India did become surplus in 2018 in some areas such as sugar and meat. But two thirds of farmers actually continue to suffer from malnutrition or see their net income fall, and the population in general can no longer bear the environmental and health damage.

Conversely, the ZNBF revolution is based on the concepts of ecological neutrality, positive “net income” and inclusive development, especially for women most affected with their children by malnutrition. This is what is happening with the organic revolution. Free of this productivist and destructive logic for health and the environment, the new yields of the farms I have been able to visit with AP special secretary Vijay Kumar are at worst equivalent to the old ones, but very often in fact superior. The paradox can be explained by the fact that chemical inputs had progressively destroyed the productive capacity of soils as their efficiency followed the traditional curve of decreasing yields. Much more important, the farmers’ income net of input costs is nearly three times higher and they have finally regained their food autonomy and an unprecedented nutritional quality disappeared as I was able to experience at all my meals in the district of Kurnool two hundred kilometers south of Hyderabad.

Read this excellent PDF paper from FAO : Zero Budget Natural Farming in India

This is a good example that shows that what counts in the end is not GDP or gross national income but net income and especially net of the damage of the so-called “progress”, especially those to come which constitute a debt to our children. This is a conceptual revolution that all economists around the world should be quick to put into practice. There is an emergency, of course.