PHDCCI Video Conference urges farmers not to burn crop residue

No.PR-273 September 29, 2020 New Delhi

PHDCCI Video Conference urges farmers not to burn crop residue

“Farmers should not burn crop residue in fields as pollution caused by it leads to respiratory diseases that may worsen symptoms related to COVID-19” said experts at a video conference on Curbing Stubble Burning to Improve Air Quality in Covid Times organized by PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHDCCI) here today. Urging farmers to adopt alternate tools and technologies to manage crop residue, experts highlighted that the existing health infrastructure is already under severe stress due to COVID-19 and additional pollution related infections will only serve as a stress multiplier.

Addressing the Session, the Chief Guest, Prof. Satwinder Singh Marwaha, Chair, Punjab Pollution Control Board said maintaining clean environment is the responsibility of every person and it is especially necessary during the present covid-19 pandemic. He added that that their mandate is to control pollution and PPCB has been persuading farmers through campaigns to stop stubble burning.

Appealing the farmers to curb stubble burning, the Guest of Honour, Dr. J S Mahal, Director of Extension Education, PAU, Ludhiana said that stubble burning cannot be justified. Therefore, farmers should use all available techniques for management of crop residue. Dr. V S Hans, Head Renewable Energy Mechanical Engineering, PAU, Ludhiana shared that besides using crop residue as fodder and fertilizer, the stubbles can be used in bio gas plants to produce electricity. It can also be used to produce bio-cng which can be used in industry and in running of vehicles. In addition, briquettes and pellets produced from stubbles can be used in boilers where not very high temperature is required.

Dr. O P Chowdhry, Head- Department of Soils, PAU, Ludhiana said stubble burning not only impacts environment but also affects soil health. Incorporation of crop residue in the soil helps in saving useful microbes, increases water holding capacity of soil and increases soil fertility.

Dr. G S Gill, Environmental Engineer, Punjab Pollution Control Board stated that during covid-19 lockdown, the pollution levels in Punjab were negligible meaning that the environment can be cleaned if we decrease processes like stubble burning that lead to air pollution. He shared that stubble burning is banned and detailed about the punitive provisions for violation. Dr. Gill informed that PPCB has been educating farmers regarding technologies available for crop residue management through banners, literature etc. and urged the farmers to voluntarily stop burning of crop residue.

Prof. Paramveer Singh, Punjabi University, Patiala shared that he has been campaigning with the help of student volunteers to educate farmers for curbing stubble burning for the last 4 years.

Dr. Lavleesh Garg, Skill Development Centre of PAU, Ludhiana shared details of the training courses and skill development programs being run by PAU jointly with the Crop Residue Management Assn and various NGO. He informed that a grant in aid ranging from Rs. 5 - 25 lacks is provided by the Central and State Government for innovative solutions in Agri sector.

In his address, Dr. Rajbir Singh Brar, Director, ICAR- ATARI, Ludhiana mentioned that harmful gases released on burning of crop residue causes air pollution and climate change. This is especially dangerous at present time as it can help in spread of covid-19.

Mr. Brar added that although many ex situ options are available but in situ mixing of crop residue is the best option as it increases the soil fertility and the results become evident in 3 years.

Mr. Manmohan Kalia, Joint Director, Agriculture Engineering- Department of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Punjab informed that appropriate technology is available for crop residue management and the required machines and tools have been provided all over Punjab for which the State Government has provided funds. There is need to change the mindset of farmers to succeed in curbing stubble burning.

Earlier, welcoming the Chief Guest, eminent speakers and participants, Mr. RS Sachdeva, Mentor, PHD State Chapter, PHDCCI said that today’s program is being organized to highlight the need for efficient management of crop residue as burning of the same leads to air pollution impacting both human and soil health.

In his Introductory remarks, the Session Moderator Mr. BM Sharma, Chair, Agri Committee- Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI said that curbing stubble burning has assumed more importance in light of covid-19 and informed that experts from different parts of India and abroad have joined to share their views on this important subject.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Rajmohan Singh Kaleka, Progressive Farmer from Patiala shared that farmers need to be educated about the useful and easy technology available for crop residue management so that the menace of residue burning could be curbed.

Addressing the conference from California, Mr. Baldev Singh Bhangu, Agri Specialist, Deptt. of Food and Agriculture, California & Former Prof., PAU shared that advance & cheap machines for recycling the crop residue are available in USA that can be used. Triple press is used to conveniently store the crop stubbles as they occupy less space. He also mentioned that stubbles are also converted into small pellets and used as manure. These advanced technologies will be useful for farmers in India also as besides providing efficient solution for crop residue management, they will help in job creation.

Dr. Harminder Singh Sidhu, Director, Gadri Baba Dulla Singh Giani Nihal Singh (GBDSGNS) Foundation, Jalaldiwal mentioned that although machines and tools for crop residue management are available for farmers but technique has not reached them. Therefore, besides educating farmers about the benefits of residue management, there is need to train them in use of technology.

Dr. Manjit Singh, Head- Farm Machinery & Power Engineering, PAU, Ludhiana shared the details of number of farm machinery made available to the farmers in the State.

Mr. Jagdeep Singh Rajoana , a progressive farmer from Ludhiana shared how he has been benefitting by mixing the crop stubble in the fields. He mentioned that his crop yield of potatoes has increased without any additional inputs.

Mr. Sukhwinder Pal Singh, Executive Director, Sikhar Trading Ltd., Vancouver, Canada suggested that NRIs should be involved in persuading farmers for stopping stubble burning. He said that the farmer himself is the first one to be affected when he burns the crop residue.

More than 100 progressive farmers from different districts of Punjab and various Agri stakeholders attended and benefited from the programme.

Ends Media Division PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry