Zero budget is an interesting concept that people might not understand very well. Basically, what is zero budget? Zero budget means money left for nothing or free of charge. Zero budgeting also known as a ‘free cash’ budget is a system of financial budgeting where all expenses have to be justified and approved every month before the money for it goes out. It means that every month you have to calculate your expenses so that you can determine how much money you have left over after paying for your expenses.
So what is zero budget farming? Zero budget farming is one of the most important functions of farmers’ co-operative societies. Farmers are the biggest consumers of food products. As a farmer, you have to calculate your production costs, which include the price of your inputs and your overhead cost such as labour, electricity, etc. The overhead cost includes the cost of machinery used for the production of your inputs, labour, fertiliser, pesticides, and many other miscellaneous costs.
This total represents your sales cost and your gross profit. If this amount is too high, then you are unlikely to earn a good profit. As a result, you will have to either reduce your sales or increase your production costs so that you can cover the difference. The traditional method of conducting this kind of farming is by increasing production costs so that the farmers have to pay more to the co-op.
But in modern times, there has been a great move towards zero budget farming. In fact, many farmers in India and across other countries have developed their own systems of zero marketing that essentially reduces the number of sales and increases the number of purchases by the consumers. For example, in subashpling, farmers plant a high number of beans and ensure that they get the maximum benefit from the yield by selling at a lower price to the customers. Since the price is fixed, there is no possibility of falling in prices and the farmers stand to make a decent profit. This has been the model adopted by some of the best organic food retailers.
The traditional zero budget farming was based on the principle of encouraging consumers to purchase the surplus produced by the farms. But with the growth of the internet and other communication tools, this kind of communication has become possible at a global scale. So, instead of encouraging local consumers, Indian farmers have developed the online medium of communication. They have websites that showcase their produce and give tips and advice to farmers in India and farmers in developing countries. Some of these websites also provide recipes for local dishes and even provide the nutritional value of the produce. Most of them have been able to create a buzz around what is natural farming.
Earlier, the finance minister of India, Mr. Narayan Murthy, had called for the revival of the farming sector in the country and henceforth provided loans to small-scale farmers to help them setup their farming units. With the encouragement and backing of the finance minister, many small-scale farmers got finances to start new units. Since this was the time for financial help to the farmers, many were willing to take up small-scale farming as an additional source of income.
Many consumers are now aware of what is zero budget farming. Thanks to the media, they are now aware of the benefits of farming and what it has to offer the consumers. Hence, there is no fear of drought in the farming sector. With increased mechanisation, there is the potential of using chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These chemicals are effective but cause immense damage to the environment.
The zero budget farming concept is promoted by Karnataka Government as well as by environmental organisations. They have started projects to reduce the use of chemicals in agricultural fields and increase the usage of non-chemical methods. Subhash, a small-scale farmer from Kumarakom district in Karnataka is now starting a food processing factory. He will be selling gourmet foods made from organic products like sugarcane and thatch. As he scale up his production, the demand for sugarcane, which is used in making of liqueurs and other sweets, will also rise.