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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Discuss the concept of natural farming in India and its significance in ensuring food security and promoting sustainable agriculture. (150 words)

    16 Jan, 2023 GS Paper 1 Geography


    • Start your answer by briefly introducing natural farming.
    • Highlight the role it can play in ensuring food security and promoting sustainable agriculture in India.
    • Conclude accordingly.


    • Natural farming is an agricultural method that emphasizes the use of natural processes and locally adapted ecosystems to grow crops and raise animals, rather than relying on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms.
    • It often involves practices such as crop rotation, intercropping, and the use of cover crops to improve soil health and promote biodiversity. The goal of natural farming is to create a self-sustaining agricultural ecosystem that is in harmony with nature, rather than trying to control or manipulate it.


    • Significance of natural farming in ensuring food security and promoting sustainable agriculture in India:
      • The aim of natural farming is to make farming viable and aspirational by increasing net incomes of farmers on account of cost reduction, reduced risks, similar yields, incomes from intercropping.
      • Food and nutrition security: Natural farming can help to improve food security for communities in India, especially for small-scale farmers who may not have access to or be able to afford modern inputs.
        • By relying on natural techniques, farmers can produce healthy, nutritious food without incurring high costs.
      • Sustainable Agriculture:
        • Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF): One of the key practices of natural farming is Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF).
          • This is the practice of growing crops without the use of any external inputs, such as pesticides and fertilizers.
          • The phrase Zero Budget refers to all crops with zero production costs. The farmers' revenue is increased as a result of ZBNF's guidance towards sustainable farming methods that help to reduce costs and increase yields.
      • Reduce cost of production: It is based on the principles of working with natural processes, which helps to reduce the dependence on external inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers. This results in a reduction in the overall cost of production, making it more viable for farmers.
      • Improves soil health: Natural farming helps to improve soil health, which in turn increases crop yields and reduces the incidence of pest infestation.
      • Help in achieving SDG-2: Natural farming is not a new concept in India, with farmers having tilled their land without the use of chemicals - largely relying on organic residues, cow dung, composts, etc. since time immemorial.
        • This is also in sync with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 targeting ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.
      • Increase participation of women: Rural areas may benefit from the creation of employment in labor-intensive organic agriculture and can also facilitate the participation of women who have less access to the formal credit market and often cannot purchase agricultural inputs.
      • Help in job creation and poverty reduction: From the economic point of view, organic agriculture has several benefits for farmers, including cheaper inputs, higher and more stable prices, and organization in farmer cooperatives.
        • In an emerging country like India, sustainable agriculture can help in meeting twin challenges of food security and job creation it also helps in poverty reduction.
    • Challenges of natural farming in India:
      • Poor budgetary support: The National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture in India receives only 0.8% of the agricultural budget, which is not sufficient to promote and support natural farming practices. Additionally, natural farming may not be the solution for controlling pest infestation during outbreaks, farmers may need chemical inputs during such situations.
      • Lack of Irrigation Facility: At the national level, only 52% of India's Gross Cropped Area (GCA) is irrigated. The monsoon continues to restrict crop planting even though India has made significant strides since independence.
      • Lack of Agricultural Diversification: In spite of the rapid commercialization of agriculture in India, most farmers assume cereals will always be their main crop (due to skewed Minimum Support Prices in favour of cereals) and ignore crop diversification.
    • Government initiatives related to natural farming:
      • National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP): It aim to provide focused and well-directed development of natural agriculture and quality products.
      • National Centre for Organic Farming (NCOF): Promotion of organic farming in the country through technical capacity building of all the stakeholders including human resource development, transfer of technology, promotion and production of quality organic and biological inputs.
      • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): It seeks to address problems and issues regarding 'Sustainable Agriculture' in the context of risks associated with climate change by devising appropriate adaptation and mitigation.
      • The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): The scheme provide support to cluster formation, certification, training, and marketing.
      • Mission for Integrated Development for Horticulture (MIDH): It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and Bamboo.


    • For India to become truly self-reliant, the Indian agriculture sector will need to undergo significant changes. To achieve this, it must fully embrace an approach that helps farmers earn more money, use fewer chemicals and pesticides, and produce nutritious food for the country while conserving natural resources.
    • Indian agriculture can become sustainable if organic and natural farming becomes a widespread movement, i.e., more and more farmers successfully adopt organic and natural farming practices. For this to happen, governments at the national and state levels will need to take aggressive and well-coordinated measures to lead and support this change on a larger scale than current efforts. These measures must reflect the commitment of political leadership and be supported by adequate budgets.

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