Agri Business

Stubble burning: India Inc pitches in to solve the recurring issue in North India

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani/TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on November 26, 2020

The problem of farm stubble burning can be addressed by offering better monetary incentives to farmers.

Programs by PepsiCo, DCM Shriram, ITC, CII aim at addressing this issue effectively

As Northern India gets shrouded in smog clouds in yet another winter season, the spotlight is back on the issue of stubble burning. To tackle this complicated issue, extending a helping hand are the FMCG and food processing companies by working closely with farmers, especially in the States of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan on sustainable farming practices.

PepsiCo India said that as part of its Sustainable Farming Programme, which was initiated in 2016, it developed training modules and training sessions with agronomists in Punjab. These agronomists conducted hundreds of training sessions with farmers in the State to create awareness on alternates to stubble burning and helping them prepare for potato cropping in 2019-20. The company said it has also been conducting field trainings for Punjab growers with a focus on crop residue management, especially paddy straw management.

Alternate practices

“Over 800 potato farmers growing potato for PepsiCo India did not burn previous crop residues,” a spokesperson for PepsiCo India said. The company said farmers have instead adopted practices such as usage of paddy straw mulcher and Mould Bold Plough to invert the soil and plough down the paddy straw into soil. The snacks and beverages major said it has also established 15 demo farms with ecosystem partners in Punjab to showcase the best practices.

DCM Shriram Ltd said it has also been working with farmers in Kota, Rajasthan towards adoption of advanced agricultural techniques and practices. “Across the three clusters of Banyani, Jodhpura and Mandaliya, which covers 18 villages in Kota, an area of 800 acre was under paddy this season and to handle the issue of stubble burning, we promoted the Decomposer Spray method,” the company stated.

ITC has also been spearheading a slew of initiatives to address the problem of stubble burning in Kapurthala in Punjab, in the catchment areas of its foods factory since 2018-19. The company said as part of it programme, it has been reaching out to farmers encouraging them to adopt paddy harvesting with “Super SMS attached combine harvester and wheat sowing through happy seeders”. This programme was extended in 2019-20 to 253 villages in the district which covered 10,600 farmers and 1.10 lakh acres.

“In the current year, ITC has continued work in the same area that was covered in 2019-20. For the first time in the area, ITC has promoted Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) on 5,800 acres in the Kharif season. DSR is supposed to come for early harvest and hence, provide a higher window for farmers between paddy harvest and wheat sowing. Additionally, ITC has also demonstrated the decomposing agent recommended by ICAR for faster decomposition and has taken up a pilot on charcoal-making from paddy stubble,” a company spokesperson said.

Even though some of these initiatives have yielded positive results, experts say the task seems to be mammoth going by the increase in incidence of stubble burning this year. According to Environment Ministry, farm fires were up 46 per cent in Punjab, while in Haryana farm fires were down 28 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has also been working closely with farmers in Haryana and Punjab to bring about a behavioural change with regard to stubble burning. “In 2018, we worked with 19 villages in the two states and this was further expanded to 147 villages in 2019. This year we are working with farmers in 200 villages, majority of them are in Punjab,” said Seema Arora, Deputy Director General, CII.

Published on November 26, 2020

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