Scourge to profit? Thatch to increase income | Delhi News


Karnal / New Delhi: Any farmer you talk to in the Delhi-RCN region would tell you how bad the practice of stubble burning is for human and soil health, but they would also say that the immediate concerns including the costly and time-consuming option of better agricultural practices, forces them to opt for the burning of leftover paddy crops.
Sensing this dilemma, the central government’s apex agricultural research body – the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – stepped in to devise ways that would directly help farmers earn money from trading carbon credits. accumulated by adopting sustainable agricultural practices such as not burning biomass or opting for crop diversification / methods that lead to less methane emissions.
Using the Pusa bio-decomposer, a bioenzyme developed by ICAR’s Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) to break down crop stubble, is one such method that is slowly gaining traction among farmers in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh after successful trials. in Delhi. IARI Director AK Singh told TOI that farmers who earn carbon credits would be the next big step in increasing their income. This would not only help them financially, but would also save the Delhi-NCR regions from the threat of air pollution linked to the burning of crop scraps after the paddy harvest in early winter.
Asked how this is possible when most farmers cannot do it on their own, Singh said: “The IARI has licensed 10 private companies and each wants to help farmers reduce the burning of straw through the mass production of the Pusa bio-decomposer and its immediate availability. We have also connected these companies with state governments to increase the footprints of decomposer use. ”
Singh said one company, nurture.farm, a subsidiary of the UPL Group, has already hired thousands of farmers to use the bio-decomposer for free in Punjab and Haryana. The company will also assist farmers on a carbon credit trading platform.
More than 20 districts in Punjab and Haryana have already registered to spray Pusa bio-decomposer on six acres of lakh rice fields owned by nearly 26,000 farmers with the help of nurture.farm, which practices sustainable farming practices .
Since the farmers have to convert the Pusa bio-decomposer capsules into a solution through a tedious process, the company converted the bio-enzyme capsule into a powder which can be mixed with water and more easily used by farmers. farmers. “We realized that one of the barriers to the large-scale adoption of the Pusa bio-decomposer was the unavailability of a ready-to-use solution. We, along with the IARI, have devised a mechanism to convert the capsules into a ready-to-use spray, ”said Pranav Tiwari, CTO, nurture.farm. “We have deployed 750 boom sprayers to carry out the spraying activities. We have sprayed 20,000 acres already. We noticed that the thatch started to decompose within eight days, allowing farmers to plant at this very stage.
Farmers are skeptical of the result, however, as this is the first season they have tried the decomposer. “We will know its result in a few days. If it is successful, we will not mind paying for the powder and the use of the boom sprayer for next season, ”said Bhupinder Singh from Takhana village in Karnal district in Haryana.
Interventions in other states, including the UP, will eventually see farmers using the bio-decomposer on nearly 12 hectares of paddy fields this year. Although this is just over a fifth of the roughly 57 lakh acres of fields where farmers have burnt paddy stubble, its success in 2021 will result in a substantial increase in its use in the years to come. .
When asked how long farmers could earn money from the carbon trading mechanism if they used a sustainable way of managing their paddy stubble and adopted alternative farming practices, Singh of the ‘IARI said the feasibility study was underway. It involved private partners and would allow farmers to earn money from 2022 on carbon trading, ”Singh noted.
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