A Roadmap to scale up ‘Natural Farming’ by NITI Aayog

Current Affairs for UPSC IAS
Why this news is important?
  • Topics related to agriculture has been very important in the Main Exam ever since the new syllabus was introduced.
  • The topics related to Natural Farming or Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) have even be asked in the Mains Exam. Thus from examination perspective this news is important.
How it is important for the Civil Services Exam: 
  • The topic is equally important for the Prelim and Main Exam.
Headlines in the Leading Newspapers: 
  • The Times of India: NITI Aayog to prepare ‘natural farming’ guide
Relevance with Syllabus of Civil Services Exam:
  • Prelims: Indian Economy
  • Mains: Paper-III: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, - different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers. 
What is the Theme?
  • Government wants to give a big push to environment-friendly traditional farming practices.
Previous Years' Questions 
  • Prelims: Let us see 2 questions on similar pattern i.e., farming pattern asked in recent examinaations.
CSE 2020
What is/are the advantage/advantages of zero tillage in agriculture?
  1. Sowing of what is possible without burning the residue of the previous crop.
  2. Without the need for nursery of rice saplings, direct planting of paddy seeds in the wet soil is possible.
  3. Carbon sequestration in the soil is possible.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3

CSE 2020
What is the use of biochar in farming ?
  1. Biochar can be used as a part of the growing medium in vertical farming.
  2. When biochar is a part of the growing medium, it promotes the growth of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms.
  3. When biochar is a part of the growing medium, it enables the growing medium to retain water for a longer time.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
Mains: Let us see the questions related to farming:
CSE 2019
  • How far is the Integrated Farming System (IFS) helpful in sustaining agricultural production?
CSE 2015
  • In view of the declining average size of land holdings in India which has made agriculture non-viable for a majority of farmers, should contract farming and land leasing be promoted in agriculture? Critically evaluate the pros and cons.
Question can be expected on:  
Q: What is Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)? Express your opinion with respect to “apprehension among farmers that production might decline by shifting to natural farming”.

Gist of the NEWS: 
  • The Niti Aayog will prepare a roadmap to scale up areas under ‘natural farming’ beyond four lakh hectares which have, so far, been covered in the country. 
  • The government has been working on a plan to include this practice as part of a syllabus in agriculture universities.
  • The apprehension among few farmers that production might decline by shifting to natural farming, would be allayed by looking at the success stories in states like Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
  • The Niti Aayog will prepare a roadmap after deliberation with farmers, scientists and agri-universities’ vice chancellors
  • The ministry is promoting the practice as part of a sub-scheme of the ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ which also promotes organic farming. 
  • About 38 lakh hectares have been brought under organic farming at present. 
  • In organic farming, farmers use organic fertilisers which weigh heavily on farmers’ pockets.