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Crop residue mgmt scheme: Small farmers remain outside fence

Large farmer groups major beneficiaries

Crop residue mgmt scheme: Small farmers remain outside fence

The superseeder machinery being used by farmers in Jalandhar. Tribune photo

Aakanksha N Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, February 19

Keeping in mind the hazard posed by the stubble burning, a crop residue management scheme was launched three years ago by the Centre. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare had launched‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanisation for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the State of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh & NCT of Delhi’ for in-situ management of crop residue.

Ill-effects of burning stubble

  • The burning of crop residue causes phenomenal pollution problems in the atmosphere and huge nutritional loss and deteriorates the quality of soil.
  • The burning of one tonne of paddy straw releases 3 kg particulate matter, 60 kg CO, 1460 kg CO2, 199 kg ash and 2 kg SO2. These gases affect human health due to general degradation in air quality resulting in aggravation of eye and skin diseases. Fine particles can also aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases.

Various equipment and machines such as super straw management, system (SMS) attached with existing combine harvester, happy seeder, mulcher, rotary slasher, reversible plough, super seeder, baler and rakes, crop reapers, etc. are developed and are given to the farmers under this scheme. While individual farmers get a subsidy of 50 per cent or Rs 87,000 (maximum), a group of farmers get a subsidy of 80 percent on the purchase of such equipment. For eg: The cost of the superseeder machine is Rs 2, 05,000, of which 1, 57,000 will be paid by the department and remaining will be paid by the group.

Objective of the scheme

  • Protecting environment from air pollution and preventing loss of nutrients and soil micro-organisms caused by burning of crop residue
  • Promoting management of crop residue by retention/incorporation into the soil or collection for further utilisation through the use of appropriate mechanisation inputs

Also, it was for the first time last year that the panchayats were allowed to directly apply with the department to get machines to manage crop residue and then sublet it to farmers at affordable rates. Until now, 13 panchayats have applied for the same.

While the official data shows that more farmers and farmer groups have been purchasing the machines, some farmers don’t really appreciate the scheme as they say that small farmers fail to benefit much from the scheme.

Tarsem Singh, one of the farmers from Jalandhar said, he had once brought a rotavator but the company gave it at a high price. “The machines are costly and I did not dare to buy another one again,” he said.

Kulwant Singh Sandhu, a farmer leader from Rurkan Kalan village, said, “A small and marginal farmers cannot purchase these. Even if someone gets it on subsidy, the company increases the price of the machines accordingly, which eventually cost the farmer very high.”

While another farmer Sukhwant Singh, however, said he had been using the machines for the past two years and was satisfied with the benefits.

Dr Surinder Singh, Chief Agriculture Officer, said more and more farmer groups and societies were coming forward and were motivated to use the machines. “Also, we don’t advise small and marginal farmers to purchase the machines, we instead ask them to buy it from farmer groups, panchayats and societies. It will be beneficial for them. Now, even the stubble burning incidents have witnessed a fall. I am sure, in coming days, few incidents which were reported earlier will not happen anymore,” he said.

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