While the government has been trying various schemes to get farmers to stop burning crop stubble, it is often from within the community that initiatives come to save the environment.
Take the case of this warrior.
Gurbachan realised the harms of stubble burning to the environment, long before the practice was criticised for causing air pollution in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.
Well, another initiative has come from the farming community. This time, it is biocoal that is being offered as an alternative to burning crop stubble, reports the Indian Express.
Two farmers from Punjab’s Samrala city, Sukhbir Dhaliwal, and Kamaljeet Singh, who have been farming for over 30 years, have come up with their start-up, a crop residue management company, which makes biocoal with crop residue.
This not only helps save the environment but also adds to the farmer’s income.
Two tonnes of biocoal sample have been sent to Europe for use in thermal plants. The company owned by the farmers is called Farm2Energy, and it is located in the Mank village in Samrala.
It was founded in 2016. Today, the company is using paddy crop, sugarcane and corn stubble residue, and trying to bid for the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).
Dhaliwal told The Indian Express, “Like the majority of farmers, I too was burning stubble post-harvest. I have 4.5 acres in Samrala. I, along with Kamalpreet Singh, used to do contract farming on 468 acres in Ambala from 2007-2017. Realising environmental hazards, we started this company. It is a new industry, which has a huge potential, apart from making the environment clean and green.”
The two friends roped in others from Ludhiana, and so far they haven’t gotten any financing from the bank, due to the absence of a clear government policy for financing agriculture equipment.
In 2016 and 2017, the two partners collected crop residue and sold it to biomass and cement manufacturing plants to be used as biofuel, earning Rs 30-35 lakh.
Last year, they cleared 12,000 acres in Ludhiana, Patiala and adjoining places. This year’s target is 20,000 acres, of which 10,000 acres will be paddy farms alone.
As of now, the company has cleared fields in Manki, Gharkhana, Gagra, Bondal, Uttla, Kulewal and Seh – all within a 3 km radius of the Samrala area of Ludhiana.
The company has an ambitious plan for the future. According to Dhaliwal, they want to export pellets/stubble powder to Europe and are clearing fields free of cost, so farmers don’t face issues in sowing the next crop.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)