Subhash Palekar, popularly known as ‘Krishika Rishi’ (the “sage of agriculture”), is a famous exponent of natural farming and a tireless promoter of the concept of “Zero-Budget Natural Farming” (ZBNF).
Palekarji’s ideas on natural farming evolved from his research done in Maharashtra between 1988 and 1996. Using eclectic textual evidence from the Vedas, and historical and literary works, he claims to have rediscovered principles of natural farming that existed a few thousand years ago. Natural farming, for Palekarji, is a “spiritual penance” (sadhana) incorporating the ascetic practices of self-purification and self-mastery. It is a spiritual way of farming and is based on our great age-old and time-tested Vedic principles.
Palekarji believes in a method of cultivation which makes the already existing nutrients in the soil, such as phosphate, potash, zinc and calcium, available in absorbable form by the plants. This is made possible by the millions of micro-organisms present in Jeevamruta (Nectar of Life), a solution Palekar obtained from a mixture of water, dung and urine of indigenous cattle, jaggery and besan flour.
Seed and plant diseases are treated with the help of cheap, easily available materials like buttermilk, black pepper, neem and tobacco. Jeevamruta is not a fertiliser; it only activates the soil ingredients necessary for a plant’s healthy growth. Since it is to be mixed with the water normally given to plants (or just sprinkled across the field, in the case of dry land cultivation), it involves a lot less labour than that required for putting fertilisers and pesticides.
Besides enabling the growth of safe, healthy produce, Palekar’s model eliminates the cost of fertilisers, pesticides and seeds, and greatly reduces the incentive to borrow, one of the chief causes for farmer suicides in the country — hence its evocative title, ‘Zero-Budget Natural Farming’.
Poojya Guruji has fully endorsed this method of farming and actively supports Palekar’sendeavour.