Guntur: After the green revolution of 1960s, organic cultivation has become the latest trend. It gained popularity over other methods because of rising input costs and resultant harm the application of chemical fertilisers would cause to public health. Therefore, the government of Andhra Pradesh, after a hectic exercise, has a target of encouraging five lakh farmers to take up organic cultivation in four years. The AP government has been moving on a war-footing to implement zero-budget natural farming as agriculture has become a costly affair because of ever increasing investments. As a result, small and marginal farmers, whose mainstay is agriculture, are getting trapped in debt crisis. According to AP Agriculture Minister Prattipati Pulla Rao, investment to implement natural farming worked out to around Rs 550 crore. Corporate giant Wipro, impressed by the initiative, came forward to lend necessary support to the farmers in practicing natural farming. It even expressed its willingness to share the burden by Rs 200 crore. Objective of the zero-budget agriculture is to make agriculture profitable with meager investments. Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Department has targeted to woo five lakh farmers towards zero-budget farming in four years. Domestic breed of cow is center to the natural farming. Therefore, the government has been extending a subsidy of Rs 10,000 per cow to farmers to enable them to purchase domestic breeds. Zero-budget farming technique is dependent on reducing input costs drastically. Farmers practicing the method will apply locally available resources instead of buying their farm requirements from outside. The state government has been imparting training to farmers on processing seeds, without use of chemicals. With the processing of quality seeds by farmers themselves, the input costs are bound to come down. According to horticulture commissioner Chiranjeevi Chowdary, the farmers have been applying chemical fertilisers and pesticides in quantities more than the prescribed level. Encouraging farmers to reduce the habit of mindless application of the chemical fertilisers and pesticides and to apply organic fertilisers to improve the soil fertility are part of the zero-budget farming. Farmers have also been trained to maintain the soil equilibrium by preventing evaporation of moisture from the soil through the application of mulching practices like covering the soil around the plants with hay and paddy husk. They have also been trained in organic preparation of pesticides and fertilisers using neem oil, cow urine and cow dung. The Government is keen to ensure that each farmer gets an income of at least Rs 12,000 to Rs 16,000 for every two and half cents of land.
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