Launching the trial of the Pusa decomposer for stubble management on around 700 hectares of farms in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday said smoke from farm fires in neighbouring states has started affecting Delhi’s air quality, but all governments were sitting with their eyes closed. Speaking at Hiranki village in North Delhi’s Narela, where the government began spraying the fungi-based decomposer on fields to convert paddy stubble into compost, Kejriwal said governments should stop the blame game and work together to address the issue of crop residue burning.
“In the last 10 months, pollution was under control in Delhi but now it has started increasing… The smoke that comes from Punjab, by the time it reaches Delhi, it reduces, but it is still a lot. In Punjab, in the village in which a farmer is compelled to burn the stubble — he is compelled to do it, he does not have fun in doing it, the soil in his field is damaged by stubble burning — imagine how much pollution there would be in that village,” Kejriwal said.
He added, “When we started this (decomposer development process), I tried contacting the Central government many times. If they wanted, then they could have done at least some work this year. This Pusa technology, we found out late about it, in September. They (Centre) also knew about it. So sincerity is needed, all agencies, everyone has to get together and be serious about this.”
The Pusa decomposer is a fungi-based technology that the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed, in which seven strains of fungi are packed into four capsules, costing Rs 20 per pack of four. These capsules are mixed into 25 litres of water, 150 grams of jaggery and 50 grams of besan, to develop a solution that can be sprayed over 1 hectare of field in which hard stubble has been left after harvest of non-basmati variety of rice or paddy.
The Delhi government is making the decomposer solution available to farmers and also spraying it on their fields out of its own pocket, which is costing the government around Rs 20 lakh in total.
As per IARI scientists, the solution would take around 20 days to convert stubble into compost. Farmers in Hiranki village, on whose field the CM kickstarted the process for spraying of the decomposer, said they have about a month before sowing wheat crops.
Sumit Rajput, 24, said, “Earlier we used to get the stubble chopped manually and would sell it as feed for cattle and for other purposes. We also used to burn the stubble, which damages the soil in our field by hardening it. Last year, we flooded the field with water to dissolve the straw and it took a lot of time for that to happen. This year, the government says that this solution would convert the stubble into compost in 15-20 days. We can only wait and see.”
Prakash Singh, 60, a farmer, added, “We think this would be helpful for the field, and we have been told by government officials that we would need to use less fertilisers if we use this solution.”
Dr K Annapurna, head of the IARI’s microbiology department, who was at the venue on Tuesday, said three steps are required to help degrade the paddy straw into compost. “First is spaying of the solution, then with the help of machinery — like Rotavator — the stubble should be mixed with soil in the field. The third step is to make sure moisture is retained in the field. If the farmer feels that the moisture content is less, then he should irrigate the field with water,” she said.
After 20 days, Dr Annapurna said, the stubble being seen on top of the field would not be visible as the enzymes in the decomposer solution would help degrade the straw into compost.
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