CHANDIGARH: Stubble burning has reduced by as much as 50 per cent this year in 14 of 22 districts in Punjab, mainly in Majha and Doaba and the issue is likely to solve by 90 per cent next year.
This was stated by KS Pannu, Secretary Agriculture and Soil Conservation Punjab at a conference on 'Stubble Burning: Viable and Sustainable Solutions' as part of CII Agro Tech India 2018.
"In Punjab, we have used Super Straw Management (SMS). The system needs to be attached to a combine harvester. The farmers were offered 50 per cent subsidy for using this system and the SMS in now in use in 5,000 of 7,500 combine harvesters in the state," informed Pannu.
He added that the government also worked hard to create awareness of the issue among farmers, using social media as well as through one-on-one interactions. Pannu shared that a German organisation has evinced interest to make Bio-CNG from straw in Punjab.
He mentioned that from November 15 this year, the state had already started a survey of farmers to know about the reason for not adopting the machines that could reduce the problem of stubble burning. Based on the response, the State Government will devise our strategy for the next year.
Pannu clarified that the reduction in paddy yield and the higher moisture content in paddy had no relation with the delayed sowing. Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has published a paper which concludes that rainfall has led to such problems, he explained.
"With 4 million tonnes of paddy residue in the soil, wheat productivity is bound to increase next year. Pesticide use should also drop by around 30 per cent," remarked Pannu, adding that Punjab Government along with the farmers were working hard to ensure that the problem vanishes from the state at the earliest.
He concluded, "Punjab farmers believe in the adage of 'Till more to grow more'. Here, we are telling them to embrace. This would be a major cultural and psychological change for the farmers. We are handholding them in this entire process."
Farmers present from districts of Sangrur, Mohali, Ludhiana, Patiala said that they should not be pressurized to adopt only one method for handling the crop residue. "First of all various options should be made available to us and then we should be given the authority to decide which method to go for. Also, human efforts should be recognized and not only machine use should be promoted," said Tejinder Singh, a farmer from Mohali.
Other farmers also raised their concerns about the machinery provided of not being at par with international standards, costs going up on using additional tools, lack of information on decomposing the stubble, and information on schemes not reaching them. Vikram Ahuja, Owner, Zamindara Farm Solutions Private Limited brought forth the point of rising prices of machinery as and when the subsidy is announced.
"The farmers should be made aware of the solutions available for straw management and given some time to handle the issue over the next three to four years," he said. While Manmohan Kalia, Joint Director, Agri-Engineering, Punjab Agriculture Department said, " The farmers should use machines like happy seeder, combine with super SMS, ploughers, bailers etc to manage straw and mix it in the fields.''