Roadmap for India’s natural farming ambitions

Contact Counsellor

Roadmap for India’s natural farming ambitions

  • India’s commitment to natural, chemical-free, organic and zero-budget farming was reaffirmed by the centre in recent budget speech
  • The zero budget natural farming has found a mention for the third time in the last four budget speeches but significant announcements from government are yet to come in this field

About Natural farming

  • It is a method of chemical-free agriculture drawing from traditional Indian practices.
  • It is a unique model that relies on Agro-ecology.
  • It aims to bring down the cost of production to nearly zero and return to a pre-green revolution style of farming.
  • There is no need for expensive inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and intensive irrigation in this farming method

Budget allocation for Natural farming

  • The FM talked of promoting natural or chemical-free farming across the country, especially in a corridor in the Gangetic basin
  • But no specific allocations have been made to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
  • The currently-operational schemes such as the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and the National Project on Organic Farming did not find any mention in the budget.
  • Only Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, which has received a 4.2-times (year-on-year) larger allocation of Rs 10,433 crore can be seen as a hope for this sector

Suggestions to scale up chemical-free farming in India

    1. Promotion in rainfed areas: Govt should focus on promoting natural farming in rainfed areas beyond the Gangetic basin.
  • It is home to half of India’s farmers who use only a third of the fertilisers per hectare compared to the areas where irrigation is prevalent.
  • The shift to chemical-free farming will be easier in these regions.
  • Farmers will also gain from this as the current crop yields in these areas are low.
    1. Enabling automatic enrolment of farmers to crop insurance schemes: Govt should enable automatic enrolment of farmers transitioning to chemical-free farming into the government’s crop insurance scheme, PM Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
  • Any transition in agriculture like crop diversification, change in farming practices adds to the farmer’s risk.
  • Covering such risks could enhance the appetite of the farmers to embark on the transition.
    1. Promotion of microenterprises: Govt. should promote microenterprises that produce inputs for chemical-free agriculture.
  • As Lack of readily available natural inputs is a barrier cited by farmers in transitioning to chemical-free agriculture
  • This challenge can be addressed by combining the promotion of natural farming with the setting up of village-level input preparation and sales shops.
  • Two shops per village across the country could provide a livelihood to at least five million youth and women.
    1. Leveraging NGOs and champion farmers: Govt. should leverage NGOs and champion farmers who have been promoting and practising sustainable agriculture across the country.
  • CEEW research estimates that at least five million farmers are already practising some form of sustainable agriculture and hundreds of NGOs are involved in promoting them.
  • Learning from peers, especially champion farmers, through on-field demonstrations has proved highly effective in scaling up chemical-free agriculture in Andhra Pradesh.
    1. Upskilling of agriculture extension workers: Govt should run programmes to upskill the agriculture extension workers on sustainable agriculture practices beyond evolving the curriculum in agricultural universities
    1. Leveraging community institutions: the government should facilitate an ecosystem in which farmers learn from and support each other while making the transition.
    1. Supporting monitoring and impact studies: these assessments would ensure an informed approach to scaling up sustainable agriculture


  • India’s food system needs a holistic transformation in demand, production, and supply chains. The government should convert its intent to promote natural farming into action by announcing concrete measures for promoting it . This will greatly contribute in achieving a chemical-free, environment friendly and sustainable food system.