Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)
- The city’s vibrant gardening community where members are proponents of healthy and chemical-free grain, fruits and vegetables is contributing to the growing trend of urban farming.
- Many are working professionals who are adopting a method of cultivation, which is neither chemical-loaded with pesticides nor organic with its reliance on manure, but all “natural”. It’s a form of gardening as a self-sustainable practice with minimum external intervention.
- This concept of zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) was first propagated 25 years ago by Subhash Palekar as a movement for farmers who were in debt due to the Green Revolution and is now being used by a large number of farmers across the country. It is being adopted by urban gardeners and small-scale farmers in and around Bengaluru. They believe that nature provides its own pest control mechanism and no additions are required to grow or nurture plants.
Zero Budget Natural Farming in India
- Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India.
- It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved.
- The movement in Karnataka state was born out of collaboration between Mr Subhash Palekar, who put together the ZBNF practices, and the state farmers association Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a member of La Via Campesina (LVC).
- The neoliberalization of the Indian economy led to a deep agrarian crisis that is making small scale farming an unviable vocation.
- Privatized seeds, inputs, and markets are inaccessible and expensive for peasants.
- Indian farmers increasingly find themselves in a vicious cycle of debt, because of the high production costs, high interest rates for credit, the volatile market prices of crops, the rising costs of fossil fuel based inputs, and private seeds.
- Debt is a problem for farmers of all sizes in India. Under such conditions, ‘zero budget’ farming promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs, ending the debt cycle for desperate farmers. The word ‘budget’ refers to credit and expenses, thus the phrase ‘Zero Budget’ means without using any credit, and without spending any money on purchased inputs. ‘Natural farming’ means farming with Nature and without chemicals.
Education Department mulling over changes in RTE admission process
- The State govt. is again planning to tweak the criteria for admission under the reservation quota of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, which will prioritise government schools over their private counterparts.
- The move has been criticised by parents’ groups and education experts, among other stakeholders, who believe that the government is diluting the reservation clause. The Dept. of Primary and Secondary Education is proposing that the changes be applicable in the 2019-20 academic year.
- The RTE Act states that 25% of seats be reserved for students of weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in private schools. However, as per the department’s plan, a child must be admitted to government or aided schools in the neighbourhood. Only if government or aided schools are not in the neighbourhood, should the child be allotted seats in a private school
- Experts point out that the proposal will ensure that the reservation quota is scrapped as almost all neighbourhoods have a government school in the vicinity. (For admissions under the RTE quota, a ‘neighbourhood’ is considered as a revenue village in rural areas, a ward within city corporation limits, and the entire jurisdiction for urban local bodies.)Other sources confirmed that the department was planning to amend three clauses under the Karnataka Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2012.
- This move has been proposed as officials in the department feel that reimbursements to private schools for the RTE quota caused a huge burden to the State exchequer. This academic year alone, the State government is estimated to have reimbursed around Rs. 500 crore.
- This January, a similar proposal was submitted by the department, but was not approved by the former Primary and Secondary Education Minister Tanveer Sait after widespread criticism.
- The State department’s own analysis pointed out the rate of decline in government school enrollments for class one got steeper in the years following implementation of the RTE Act.
- It had also pointed out that only a small percentage (1.2%) of the overall budget of the Department of Primary and Secondary Education was spent as reimbursement for 2015-2016. Parents are unhappy with this proposal as they enrol their children in private schools in the hope they would become well-versed in English.
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