- 1. Introduce with the events happening in Punjab and Haryana at present
- 2. Give reasons on why farmers burn stubble without adopting any technologies
- 3. Provide alternatives to such practices
- 4. Conclude by emphasizing the need for sustainable agriculture practices
Stubble burning is a post-harvest practice used to clear fields of paddy crop residue by burning them. This practice mostly carried out in Punjab, Haryana and UP contributes solely to the grave winter pollution in the national capital.
Reasons for continuing stubble burning by farmers-
- Stubble burning is a common practice followed by farmers to prepare the field for sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.
- Burning Rice straw and wheat residue is not necessary for the farmers because of the availability of technology and its higher economic value as dry fodder.
- Even though farmers are aware that the burning of straw is harmful to health, they do not have alternatives for utilizing them effectively.
- The farmers are ill-equipped to deal with waste because they cannot afford the new technology that is available to handle the waste material.
- Experts say that with less income due to crop damage, farmers are likely to be inclined to light up their fields to cut costs and not spend on scientific ways of stubble management.
- It costs Rs 1,500-3,000 per acre for stubble management, depending on the equipment and method.
Alternative solutions that can avoid Stubble Burning:
- The available paddy straw can be effectively used for power generation, which will go a long way towards overcoming the problem of disposal of crop residues and power deficit in the region.
- Suitable machinery for collection, chopping and in situ incorporation of straw is required.
- There is great potential for making investments in paddy straw-based power plants which can help avoid stubble burning to a large extent and also create employment opportunities.
- Incorporation of crop residues in the soil can improve soil moisture and help activate the growth of soil microorganisms for better plant growth.
- Convert the removed residues into enriched organic manure through composting.
- New opportunities for industrial use such as extraction of yeast protein can be explored through scientific research.
- The 2014 national policy envisages the adoption of technical measures, including diversified uses of crop residue, capacity building, and training along with the formulation of suitable legislation, to deal with the issue of disposing of stubble.
- Unless Financial assistance is to be provided by the Centre for boosting farm mechanization, it is difficult to completely stop stubble burning.
- States need to make alternative arrangements for the consumption of paddy straw into the soil as per the directions of the NGT.
What More Should Be Done:
- There is also a need to develop rice varieties that are both rich in grain yield and high in straw quality.
- The use of such dual-purpose rice varieties will help to maintain food security, farm income and improve environmental sustainability.
- There needs to be a proactive engagement to both persuade and reassure farmers.
- The greater availability of machines and the zero-tolerance policy need to be seen as works in progress to derive lessons on how to refine the crop-clearing process in an ecologically sound manner.
- Promoting indigenous research and science, incentivizing pulses production, and rationalizing pricing more broadly. Converting crises into opportunities is the hallmark of good public policy
It is important to diagnose and address the fundamental problems that force the farmers to burn the paddy straw on the field and not utilize it for any productive purpose.