Roots Foundation, a social enterprise working with the farming community, will launch a sensitizstion and training programme for farmers in Haryana and Punjab to address the challenge of stubble burning.
A media statement said that an extensive three-month programme has been launched by the social enterprise to sensitise, educate, train, and support nearly 50,000 farmers of these two states in the next three months. The programme will increase its reach in the coming years and aims to go beyond sensitisation to training farmers in alternatives.
The foundation — which has been working with more than two lakh farmers in the region on promoting various good agriculture practices since 2017 — in association with experts from Wazir Advisors and agriculture universities, aims to encourage farmers not to burn stubble, it said.
Ritwik Bahuguna, the founder of Roots Foundation and partner of Wazir Advisors, said the programme aimed to make a difference by educating farmers and creating their willingness against stubble burning.
“We aim to create awareness of various technology interventions, government schemes and subsidies to eradicate stubble burning, and go one step ahead to train farmers in alternate methods of disposal. Under the programme, our experts focus on the use of a mix of in-situ (on the field) and ex-situ (off the field) practices,” he said, adding, the focus has been on promoting use of happy seeders and Pusa decomposer under in-situ, and the focus is on linking farmers to markets under ex-situ.
The programme is being executed through farmers’ meetings and demonstrations in small groups of 15-30 farmers. In order to show the positive impact of in-situ methods, soil samples shall be collected from farmers’ fields (before and after) to deliver the real efficacy of in-situ methods of stubble disposal on soil quality, the statement said.
Makhan Singh Bhullar, Principal Agronomist and Head of Department of Agronomy, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, said the problem of stubble burning requires the active participation of all stakeholders. “We, as a fulcrum, are making all efforts to ensure seamless transfer of knowledge to farmers. The foundation would act as a messenger of universities to disseminate knowledge on alternate practices, and the universities would act as technical partners in this endeavour,” he said.
The statement said that crop residue or stubble burning has become a national problem. Stubble burning increases pollution levels in several northern states to severe level, and high levels of PM (particulate matter) pose serious threat to population health.
It said that Punjab and Haryana are leading in terms of stubble burning in North India. Due to lack of viable end uses and residue management equipment with farmers, stubble burning has become a major pollutant and a socio-economic concern.
Every winter, the burning of crop residue of over 30 million tonnes in Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana causes the pollution levels to rise exponentially, with PM levels reaching ‘severe’ categorisation, the statement said.