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Paddy Straw Management Workshop Highlights Effective Strategies to Achieve Target of Zero Stubble Burning

The workshop highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts to tackle the issue of stubble burning, ensuring a sustainable and healthy agricultural environment for the future.

Shivam Dwivedi
Paddy Straw Management Workshop Highlights Effective Strategies to Achieve Target of Zero Stubble Burning (Photo Source: Pixabay)
Paddy Straw Management Workshop Highlights Effective Strategies to Achieve Target of Zero Stubble Burning (Photo Source: Pixabay)

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, in collaboration with the state of Punjab and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), organized a workshop on 'Paddy Straw Management and Action Plans.' The event, which took place at the Punjab Agricultural University campus, saw the participation of senior government officials, agricultural experts, stakeholders, and over 300 farmers.

The Chief Guest for the workshop was K.A.P. Sinha (IAS), Additional Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare in the Government of Punjab. In his address, he emphasized the crucial role of farmers in society and highlighted the need to eliminate the practice of paddy straw burning.

Sinha proposed various measures to overcome the obstacles faced in this regard, including increasing the capacity of balers, deploying more machinery in high-burning areas, involving cooperative societies to support socially disadvantaged beneficiaries, and replicating successful initiatives. He expressed his hope for a transition to a no-burn agriculture norm by the following year.

Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor of PAU, stressed the harmful effects of stubble burning on air and soil quality, as well as human health. He advocated for the adoption of conservation agriculture, which involves upcycling paddy straw without generating waste. Dr. Gosal called for collaboration among government departments, NGOs, academia, industry, and farmers to effectively address the issue of paddy straw burning.

S. Rukmani, Joint Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Government of India, briefed the participants about the Central Sector Scheme that provides financial assistance to farmers and various organizations for crop residue management. She highlighted the importance of combating air pollution and subsidizing machinery.

Rukmani revealed a 30-40% reduction in paddy straw burning since the previous year and emphasized the workshop's goal of creating a value chain to utilize paddy straw as a resource, thereby minimizing losses for farmers. She also stressed the need for a joint action plan for paddy straw management.

Arvind Nautiyal, Member Secretary of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), emphasized the detrimental effects of air pollution on the environment, climate, and human health. He recommended measures such as crop diversification, the use of the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) method, and promoting specific varieties of basmati rice and long straw-generating crops. Nautiyal also highlighted the importance of ex-situ management through strategic mapping of villages, establishing briquetting/pelleting plants, and developing a supply chain to utilize straw as fuel in various industries, biomass power generation, compressed biogas production, bio-ethanol, and packaging materials.

Dr. Ajmer Singh Dhatt, PAU's Director of Research, shared the efforts being made by PAU to address the issue of paddy straw burning. He highlighted the use of machines like the Happy Seeder and Super Seeder, as well as technologies for ex-situ and in-situ straw management. Dr. Dhatt encouraged farmers to adopt these cost-effective, eco-friendly, and water-efficient methods to enhance soil health, increase crop output, and reduce input costs. Dr. Gurvinder Singh, Director of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare for Punjab, presented the state's paddy straw management strategies and action plans for the upcoming 2023 season.

The workshop also featured presentations by officials from the Ministry of Power, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and the Central Pollution Control Board. These presentations highlighted various initiatives for the utilization of biomass and paddy straw in the country, including the promotion of CBG (Compressed Biogas) projects, the establishment of 2G ethanol plants, and the use of biomass pellets in coal-based power plants. The Central Pollution Control Board also outlined guidelines for financial assistance to establish paddy straw-based pelletization and torrefaction plants.

The workshop concluded with a summary of the major recommendations by the Joint Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare and a vote of thanks by Dr. AN Meshram, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare.

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