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Revolutionising Agriculture via Subhash Palekar Natural Farming


Published Jan 1, 2001

Wardha has been declared as one of the distressed districts in the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra. The economy of Wardha district is prominently based on agro-based livelihoods mainly agriculture. Today, farmers face the problems of low productivity, high cost of production, crop failure due to adverse climatic condition, attack of disease and pest, damage caused by  wild animals.

The farmers themselves pointed out the reasons behind the adverse agrarian scenario as higher doses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and cultivating single crop every year. To tackle the distress conditions, The Bajaj Foundation rolled out a strategy called Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) to promote climate-resilient cropping pattern.  Subhash Palekar is an agricultural scientist, farmer and author who invented Zero Budget Natural Farming.   SPNF is a system where the laws of nature are applied to agricultural practices to produce healthy food, to keep ourselves and our land healthy. The ancient system of natural farming is more suited for farming because of its easy adaptability and cost-effectiveness. Natural farming supports to maintain, prosper and sustain farm ecosystem.

The four pillars of SPNF are - application of Bijamrit, application of Jiwamrit, Mulching and creating a condition of Wafasa. Bijamrit is effective in protecting young roots from fungus as well as from soil-borne and seed-borne diseases that commonly affect plants after the monsoon period. Jiwamrit provides nutrients, but most importantly, acts as a catalytic agent that promotes the activity of beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Mulching provides a necessary microclimate for the growth of microbes. It also creates Wafasa which retains the required moisture level for proper growth of plants. Natural farming reduces the cost of inputs as these formulations are prepared by using dung, urine of an indigenous cow, jaggery, pulses flour and leaves of bitter plants available in the vicinity of the farm.


Process followed: -

Foundation had been guiding and motivating farmers by adopting various capacity building measures like village meeting, demonstration of SPNF techniques (Jiwamrit, Ghanjiwamrit, Dashparni arka, Agniashtra etc,) training and field exposures at different stages of crop growth. Besides that, demonstration plots were maintained in each village to make the farmers understand the adoption of proper technique relevant to particular crop conditions. The demonstration of intercropping and mixed cropping models helped to clarify the doubts of the farmers and increased its adoption as the farmers visualized its benefit mitigating climate change effect.


Achievement and Impact: -

  • 27000 farmers were sensitized and trained in Natural farming
  • 4188 farmers adopted Natural farming practices
  • 3126 Farmers partially adopted Natural farming practices
  • 3593 acres of land in 213 villages have been brought under natural farming
  • 40 to 45% reduction in the cost of cultivation
  • 138 farmers preserving indigenous seeds and attained seed sufficiency
  • 1288 farmers received 20% higher rates compared to market prices
  • 718 farmers adopted intercropping to combat climate change and to reduce the risk of total crop failure.
  • 126 men and women farmers participated in the Grain festival organized at Wardha. Total sale within 2 days was Rs. 13.27 lakh. This attempt helped farmers to get a 20% rise in the sale than compared to market rates.
  • 630 farmers from 8 states participated in ‘Shiwar Pheri’ (field tour) under the guidance of Padma Shri Subhash Palekar to learn from experiences of farmers adopted SPNF practices.
  • 227 farmers provided with a hand hoe, cycle hoe and locally designed implement for keeping the birds away from sorghum and sesame crops.
  • 27 farmers were helped for installation of automatic Jivamrut application system


Learnings: –

  • Introduction of traditional crops like linseed, sorghum, green gram, black gram, spices, etc proved their climate-resilient benefits.
  • Adoption of intercrops and mixed crops minimized the risk of total crop failure.
  • Internal and external exposure visits to the successful farmers proved as a driving force for the adoption of driving for Zero Budget Natural Farming techniques among the farmers.
  • Maintaining demonstration plots at village level helped to build trust among the farmers in adoption of Zero Budget Natural Farming practices.


Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme:

Farming input cost reduced No. of Farmers Benefited Area benefitted (Acres)
40-45% 40,874 98,067
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