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Sowing the Seeds of Change: Report suggests Innovative Collaboration for Smoke-Free Stubble...

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Sowing the Seeds of Change: Report suggests Innovative Collaboration for Smoke-Free Stubble Management

Chandigarh: The much-anticipated release of a comprehensive report, providing the perspective of farmers on the challenges they face in reducing stubble burning, has shed light on an issue that has long been a concern for both the environment and the farming community. The report, compiled by a team of experts, provides a detailed overview of the difficulties faced by farmers and emphasises the need for sustainable and long-term solutions that support their livelihoods.

Asar Social Impact Advisors collaborated with researchers, Clean Air Punjab (a network of citizens, civil society organisation members, professionals and other key stakeholders), and CMSR Consultants Private Limited to develop a comprehensive report on stubble management. The report titled ‘Beyond Stubble Burning’ was released in Chandigarh on September 12 by the members of civil society, farmers and experts, including, Dr Prabjyot Kaur, Principal Scientist, Agrometeorology from Punjab Agricultural University, Devinder Sharma, Agriculture Policy Expert and Dr Supreet Kaur, President EcoSikh.

Stubble burning, a common practice among farmers to burn crop residue after harvest,, has been a subject of debate due to its contribution to air pollution and climate change. However, this recently released report takes a balanced approach, acknowledging the concerns of farmers while addressing the environmental implications.

Sanam Sutirath Wazir, Head of State Climate Action, Asar, stated "Farmers are the backbone of our nation, and it's essential to approach this issue with empathy. The report highlights the economic hardships faced by farmers and suggests recommendations for the government to support alternative methods to stubble burning. Blaming farmers only for stubble burning is like blaming the oppressed for oppression. There are many farmers who are marginalised, they deserve support and not condemnation."

The report's release on Tuesday saw the participation of various experts. Agricultural expert Devinder Sharma was the keynote speaker. He expressed concern over the issue, which has been prevalent for many years now. “Today Punjab has 1.17 lakh machines for stubble burning management and 20,000 vehicles will be added this year. Punjab is going to become a junkyard of machines”, he said, adding we must come with a sensible and sustainable solution to this problem. There should be special budget allocation for the farming community to tackle this menace, adding such initiatives like the release of report on stubble burning, are needed in Punjab and will go a long way in solving the problem.

The report recommends a multi-faceted approach that includes financial incentives, technological support, and awareness campaigns. It proposes hassle-free subsidies for mechanised equipment that facilitate residue management, thereby reducing the need for burning. The report also suggests collaboration between government agencies, agricultural experts, and farmers to promote knowledge sharing and implementation of sustainable practices.

Palwinder Singh, a progressive farmer from Fatehgarh, expressed his satisfaction with the report's approach. "We've always wanted to protect the environment, but it's crucial that solutions consider our economic realities. This report takes into account our challenges and offers practical solutions that align with our interests."

During the panel discussion, Dr Prabhjyot Kaur, Principal Scientist Agrometeorology, Punjab Agricultural University, said, ‘’As a principal scientist, I am guided by the winds of change. Through Science and sustainable practices, we can cultivate a blue, brighter and cleaner Punjab for generations to come.’’

Speaking on the occasion, Gurpreet Singh from Punjab Development forum, said, "In our pursuit of a sustainable solution to stubble burning, let us unite in the spirit of collaboration and support, recognizing that solutions exist beyond blame. It is within our collective responsibility to empower Gram Sabhas as the guiding force towards a brighter, smoke-free future."

Supreet Kaur, President of EcoSikh and Member of Clean Air Punjab, speaking at the event said, ‘’The strength of our efforts lies in the collective will of our civil society. Together we can raise our voices to champion clean air, forging a path towards a brighter, healthier, future. Only through our shared actions, can we cleanse the skies.”

CS Grewal, an organic farmer speaking at the event said, “Today's world, dominated by capitalism and consumerism has one principle that rules them all - demand dictates supply.This principle transcends to food production as well. Since the Consumer demands the cheapest produce, the Farmer has no option but to produce the cheapest food. And when he does so, the Consumer should not blame the Farmer for either the quality, or the methods he is forced to employ in this respect, but should consider changing his consumption habits.”

The Stubble Burning Report's release marks a significant step in addressing a complex issue that requires a balanced approach. By supporting farmers with viable alternatives, the report sets a precedent for sustainable agricultural practices that benefit both the environment and the agricultural community.

During the report release, a documentary unveiled farmers' perspectives, while Sukhmeet Singh, CEO of Agri- -2 power, launched a website showcasing positive stories of farmers who have gained from non-burning.


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