India (Sub-national)

Implementing Organisation:

Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS)


2015 – now

In a nutshell

ZBNF has a dual character: It is a peasant movement and a compilation and dissemination of farming methods, now integrated into a public policy. It promotes an inclusive farming system, where the soil or the farm provides all the needed nutrients for an effective and healthy food production.

A precondition for the proposed approach is that farmers should own land and at least one cow, and should have access to some kind of irrigation. Based on that, are the four pillars of farming methods, which increase efficiency and sustainability of the food production.

Overall, the aspects of low cost farming and resilience to climate change for smallholder farmers is the core of ZBNF. For dissemination, the movement is self-organized and the farmers are informally connected to each other (e.g. WhatsApp).




In 2016, 59% of India’s workforce was working in the agricultural sector. India is heavily influenced by climate change and farmers in India are facing a vicious cycle of credits and debt that leads to a high rate of depression and suicide. The change in Indian economy has led to seed privatization and high costs for farming products. That is the reason why there is a need for new farming methods with little or no external inputs, which are more resilient to climate change.


With ZBNF, farmers should become independent from external inputs. It promotes that all the nutrients needed are available in a healthy soil and do not need to be added to the system from outside. This approach helps small-scale farmers to increase their net income by using natural farming approaches while increasing the inherent resiliency of their farming system.

Key Interventions

Farm level:

  • Fermented microbial organic bio inoculant/”fertilizer” consisting of water, cow dung and urine, jiggery(raw sugar), pulse flour and soil (Jiwamrita), which provides nutrients, promotes activity of earthworms and microorganisms and helps to prevent fungal and bacterial diseases
  • Seed treatment consisting of water, cow dung and urine, lime and soil (Bijamrita)
  • Mulching, avoiding deep ploughing (Acchadana)
  • Healthy soil conditions through perfect mix of water vapour and aeration, achieved by reducing irrigation and only irrigating at noon (Waaphasa)
  • Intercropping/Agroforestry
  • Contours/Bunds to preserve water

Regional/national Level:

  • Master farmers who practise what they preach and teach other farmers
  • Informal farmer-to-farmer communication, e.g. WhatsApp-groups to share practises
  • Training camps and video tutorials
  • Political support, Andhra Pradesh(Indian state) policy with the goal of ZBNF reaching 6 million farms by 2024

Lessons Learned/challenges

The main challenge is the lack of support from the traditional universities and the national government. Although heavily supported by the state, the national government does not yet see agroecology as a key to solving India’s food challenges.

Relevant Links & references