Patiala, India-September 27, 2020: A farmer burning paddy stubble at village Asarpur near Patiala on Sunday, September 27, 2020. (Photo by / Hindustan Times)

Farm fires set to continue as subsidy may not encourage shift to tech

The harvest season has already begun in lots of elements of northwest India, and at the same time as most farmer teams agitate in opposition to the farm payments, group leaders stated crop stubble burning might proceed this yr too, saying subsidies on straw administration equipment is just not sufficient for small farmers to modify to machines.

Satellite pictures launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) have proven an growing variety of stubble burning incidents in Punjab over the previous 5 days, particularly in Amritsar district.

Nasa additionally warned that with plumes of smoke being seen over Delhi, town’s air high quality can also deteriorate within the coming weeks. Delhi authorities knowledge reveals that stubble burning accounted for 44% of town’s air air pollution final yr.

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A silver lining, nevertheless, is that the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) will in sure farms this yr test its microbial consortium, which helps decompose stubble rapidly, thereby eradicating the necessity for any straw administration equipment. But it might not be scaled as much as all of northwest India instantly, officers stated.

“We had been working on the microbial consortium for a couple of years after the happy seeder (for straw management) was introduced. Last year, it was tried in Uttar Pradesh and it had worked. So, after the crop is harvested with a combine harvester, it needs to be chopped so that the straw is short and the microbial consortium can be used. The money for straw management machinery to be subsidised has also been released to Punjab and Haryana so farmers can access that. I think there will be a further reduction in crop stubble burning this year compared to last year,” stated Trilochan Mohapatra, director, Indian Council for Agricultural Research.

But farmers aren’t conscious of the microbial consortium’s effectiveness. “We have heard about the solution. If it works, nothing like it. The only worry is that if straws from paddy don’t decompose , it will delay the sowing for the Rabi season. They should do a trial,” stated Dharmendra Kumar, spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union.

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“No machine can remove the straw effectively and farmers end up spending on the machines and fuel. So there was talk of giving direct subsidy to farmers of about Rs 100 per quintal. But that has not happened. Instead they have used that money to subsidise straw management machinery,” he added.

Harvesting began every week early this time, in keeping with Rattan Singh Mann, chief of the BKU’s Haryana unit.

“I have seen small farmers are already setting fire to their farms after harvesting. That’s because it was very warm this month which prepared the crop for early harvest. Small farmers who do not have access to machinery will continue to burn stubble this year. But the Haryana government has made both cooperative societies for renting machines and is also offering subsidies to those who need to buy it,” Mann stated.

BKU basic secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal stated numerous farmers haven’t obtained subsidies to purchase straw administration equipment this yr, so clearly they may burn stubble. “Farmers are extremely disturbed about the farm bills also. It’s a crisis,” stated .

Besides inflicting air pollution, burning additionally impacts the soil’s fertility. Burning one tonne of straw accounts for lack of 5.5kg nitrogen, 2.3kg phosphorus, 25kg potassium and 1.2kg sulphur. Heat from burning straw penetrate into the soil as much as 1 cm. Repeated burning completely diminishes the bacterial inhabitants by greater than 50% in keeping with an evaluation by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.

Centre beneath its in-situ administration of crop residue scheme has allotted Rs 1,151.80 crore for subsidising straw administration equipment from 2018-19 to 2019-20.