The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is set to become country’s first 100 percent natural farming state. The state government has launched a scale-out plan to transit 6 million farms/farmers cultivating 8 million hectares of land from conventional synthetic chemical agriculture to Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) by 2024, UN environment reports.
Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS) is the not-for-profit established by the government to implement ZBNF programme. Supported by the Sustainable India Finance Facility (SIFF) – an innovative partnership between UN Environment, BNP Paribas, and the World Agroforestry Centre, the programme covers multiple sustainable goals- ‘No Poverty’, ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’, ‘Responsible Consumption and production’ and ‘Life on Land’.
It aims to enhance farm biodiversity and ecosystem services and reduces farmers’ costs through eliminating external inputs and using in-situ resources to rejuvenate soils, whilst simultaneously increasing incomes, and restoring ecosystem health through diverse, multi-layered cropping systems.
The launch was attended by 8000 farmers. The event hosted international dignitaries Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment; Sunny Verghese, Chair, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Co-Founder and Group CEO of Olam International; Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International; Antoine Sire, Member of the Global Management Committee, BNP Paribas SA, among others.
“This is an unprecedented transformation towards sustainable agriculture on a massive scale, and the kind of bold change we need to see to protect the climate, biodiversity, and food security,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. “We’re pinning a great deal on the Zero Budget Natural Farming programme, which I hope will inspire the widespread adoption of a natural farming scheme. It’s a better deal for farmers, consumers, and the planet.”
“The success of climate-resilient, Zero Budget Natural Farming in Andhra Pradesh will not only help India in meeting its SDGs but it can also inspire and transform the lives of millions of farmers across the developing world,” said, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu.
“The Andhra Pradesh government is showing true leadership in transitioning one of India’s first “Green Revolution” states into one of India’s first natural farming states. The scale-out of ZBNF will promote regenerative agriculture, improve soil biodiversity and productivity, and ensure decent livelihoods to smallholder farmers, who grow so much of the food people consume but receive so little reward for their labour,” said Pavan Sukhdev, President, WWF International.
“The world is running out of time to reverse the climate change trajectory, which is precisely why it is crucial to engage and invest in a new paradigm championing regenerative agriculture with significant positive externalities, such as the ZBNF programme in Andhra Pradesh,” said Satya Tripathi, Chairperson, Sustainable India Finance Facility.