The app would allow farmers to know which hiring centres are available near them, see photographs of the machinery they wish to hire, and negotiate prices before placing an order.
Beginning every October, as farmers in Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh set fire to paddy residue, or crop stubble, to clear their fields for the rabi sowing season, smoke and particulate matter causes the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the Delhi-NCR region to spike to an average of 250-plus—well past the ‘poor’ level. Add to this the festival season, and the national capital region sees cases of severe respiratory distress spike to tens of thousands. Many solutions, ranging from banning crackers to providing low-cost protective face masks, have been tried out. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh recently suggested that suitable compensation could encourage farmers to desist from stubble burning, since the alternative—hiring a combine harvester—costs these farmers too much. Now, the central government has come up with a strategy to make more environment-friendly alternatives to the practice of stubble burning available to farmers in the NCR more easily, and at competitive costs.
The government has launched the CHC Farm Machinery app that allows farmers to both rent and buy, among other machinery required for farm work, equipment for in-situ management of stubble from custom hiring centres (CHCs) within a radius of 50 km. According to the ministry, 40,000 CHCs have registered with the app to make available 120,000 agricultural machinery at affordable rates. The app would allow farmers to know which hiring centres are available near them, see photographs of the machinery they wish to hire, and negotiate prices before placing an order. With the NCR already bracing itself for the onslaught of air pollutants, this digital solution to a long-continuing problem is a breath of fresh air.