Paddy stubble burning declines in western UP, Haryana and Punjab: ICAR

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Published: August 14, 2019 12:42:54 AM

As harvesting of kharif paddy crop may start from October in these states, ICAR is geared up to distribute over 55,000 happy seeder machines this year.

The happy seeder machine is mounted on a tractor to sow wheat into the soil. The happy seeder machine is mounted on a tractor to sow wheat into the soil.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has said that incidents of crop residue burning have reduced by 40-45% in Haryana, 25% in western Uttar Pradesh and 14-15% in Punjab after farmers switched to happy seeder machine that helps them to earn more while also reducing air pollution.

As harvesting of kharif paddy crop may start from October in these states, ICAR is geared up to distribute over 55,000 happy seeder machines this year.

So far, 4,500 villages (covering 8 lakh hectare) in Punjab, Haryana and UP have been declared as ‘zero stubble burning’ and the number of will increase this year after distribution of this machines, said ICAR director general Trilochan Mohapatra. With the support from the states, ICAR has been demonstrating to farmers the utilities of these machines by which not only air pollution will reduce, but also income of farmers will be increased, he said.

The happy seeder machine is mounted on a tractor to sow wheat into the soil. While doing so, it simultaneously cuts and lifts the paddy straw which is then used as mulch. ICAR has estimated that when the crop residues burning will stop in entire area under the rice-wheat cropping system, it will generate additional benefits worth `900 crore for the farmers.

“Happy seeder is a profitable solution that could be scaled up for adoption among the 2.5 million farmers involved in the rice-wheat cropping cycle in north-west India. It can completely eliminate the need to burn residues,” Mohapatra said. It can also lower agriculture’s contribution to India’s greenhouse gas emissions, while adding to the goal of doubling farmers income, he added.

As much as 23 million tonne of paddy residue are burnt in rice-wheat cropping system in Punjab, Haryana and western UP (estimated area 4.1 million hectare). Since the cost of manual labour is higher than the value of the crop residues, farmers prefer to burn it on the field after paddy harvest to clear for conventional wheat sowing. The narrow window of 10-20 days between paddy harvesting and wheat sowing also influences the farmers’ decision to burn it. The problem started after more and more farmers took to harvester for paddy harvest and that machine leaves a large portion of the rice plant on the field, unlike manual harvesting.

The Centre targets to spend Rs 588 crore this year on subsidy for happy seeder machine, as against Rs 565 crore in 2018. An individual farmers get 50% subsidy in buying a happy seeder (costs Rs 1.5-1.75 lakh), while a group of farmers get 80% subsidy.

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