One of the primary reasons contributing to hazardously high levels of smog in Punjab and NCR belt is the age-old practice of stubble burning followed by farmers with the onset of winter.
While the contaminant fog has been causing not just visibility crisis but various health issues, government and non-government agencies have repeatedly been advocating against the practice and raising awareness amidst the farmers in the region.
Seeing the dangerous effects of smog for themselves, many farmers in Punjab are switching to an alternative method that takes care of stubble disposal responsibly, without eliciting any threat to the environment.
The method involves a ‘waste decomposer’, a solution concocted with effective microorganisms that propel in-situ composting of the crop residue. This is done by spraying the preparation on the post-harvest stalks of crop plants and leaving it for a month.
Prepared by the National Centre for Organic Farming, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the waste decomposer comes in a small bottle that is distributed to farmers at a measly price of ₹20.
According to Jagat Singh, who is the assistant director of the centre, many farmers in Punjab have started implementing “waste decomposer” in their fields. “We get feedback from the farmers which must be a motivation for other farmers too,” he told The Tribune, a local daily.
Singh also mentioned that even Kheti Virasat Mission of Punjab, a non-profit organisation, which advocates organic farming, has taken many bottles from the centre.
According to the centre officials, the solution can decompose over 10,000 metric tons of biowaste in 30 days. The same can also be used in foliar spray and via drip irrigation. To encourage more farmers, the centre has also been circulating videos on social media that showcase positive responses of farmers who have used the solution.
Balwant Singh Bains, who is the sarpanch of Chak Bilga village of Nawanshahr, has been one amongst the rising tide of farmers who have used the waste decomposer in their fields and has also been encouraging other farmers in the village to implement the same in their fields.
“The farmers have started responding and are using this to decompose the stubble too. I do not want to burn the paddy, and that is why along with the farmers, I have gathered all the stubble and have sprayed the solution on it,” he said.