Stubble Burning By Farmers and Smog Pollution Issue in Delhi

There is an interesting battle going on between farmers around NCR and the urban dwellers in Delhi on the topic of burning the stubble, resulting in smog and smoke pollution in Delhi.

Farmers use Combine Harvester to harvest paddy which leaves a foot long stubble behind on the field. This has to be disposed in two to three weeks to start wheat cultivation. The straw can be used as fodder for generating electricity as long as it is at least a foot long. Can also be given to paper mills.

Farmers expect Rs.100 to Rs.200 per quintal for this fodder.

The government has tried a hard stance approach by imposing a fine of Rs.2500/- (in Haryana) for every acre of land where the farmers burn the stubble. The farmers are happy to pay the fine as other approaches cost them Rs.5000/- or more to dispose them off.

There are other ways to dispose off these left overs. One of the methods is to use a disposal machine (eg. a combination of straw management system and happy seeder).  To encourage the farmers to buy these, the government announced subsidies, but as soon as that was done, the manufacturers raised the prices of such machines. Eg. Straw Management System (SMS) priced at Rs.65K last year is doubled this year.

There are other issues with this approach. The happy seeder machines are much heavier than the normal ones and more powerful tractors required to pull happy seeder (hence more money spent on diesel and rent)

The other recommendation is to give 5K per acre to farmers – so that they can decide if to use labour or machines to clear the straw. At this point, the issue is unresolved and is becoming a major issue for everyone in Delhi.

The Five Minute Farmer Platform is also considering introducing a method for farmers to sell the stubble on our platform and consumers can buy the same from here. Stay tuned for further updates on this topic.