Padma Shri Awardee Subhash Palekar from Maharashtra on Thursday said the zero budget natural farming was equally effective for the apple crop in Himachal Pradesh, and apples so produced will be rich in nutrition and will have more shelf life.

Palekar, the originator of the ZBNF concept, who was here to sensitise the farmers and officials in agriculture and animal husbandry departments, said it takes only three months for the soil to revert to its original fertility if a farmer sheds the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides and switches to ZBNF.

Talking to mediapersons here, the concept of natural farming is totally different from the agriculture done by using chemical fertilisers and pesticides and even organic farming. “It solely depends on desi cow, and we don’t have to use any compost, manure or pesticides. The productivity is more and we get pure and healthy produce through natural farming,” he said.

A farmer from Maharashtra, Palekar, who is already advising five governments in the country on the concept, said there was need to aware hill farmers take to ZBNF.

He said the scientists have been misguiding the people that soil does not have nutrients in it.

“The nature already has all the nutrients for a plant to grow. You see the trees in the forest area. They grow naturally,” he referred.

Palekar said the ZBNF could uplift the economy of farmers in the entire country as it does not involve production costs.

“As per information, seven lakh farmers in the country have so far committed suicides (none who was doing natural farming). The loan waiver is not the solution. Even after loan waivers, the farmers start taking loans again and again and go in losses. The natural farming could be sustainable loan liberation,” he said.

He said the Andhra Pradesh government had been keen on spreading the concept and has set yearly targets for this. “Five lakh farmers have already switched to zero budget natural farming in the state. There is positive response in Himachal, as well as the government, is taking much interest,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention that around 50 lakh farmers in the country have already switched to zero budget natural farming.