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Sunday, October 25, 2020

In Delhi’s rural belt, 800 hectares of farmlands to try new technique

The farm fires, which go up sharply around mid October and peak during the first week of November, also degrade the air quality in the region.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: October 1, 2020 8:53:41 am
569 from Delhi govt schools clear NEET, CM Kejriwal says talent, money not tiedDelhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, meanwhile, appealed to the Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to hold a monthly meeting of chief ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to tackle the problem of farm fires in the region.

Farmers in the city’s rural belt will be given special tablets, developed by the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), which will decompose paddy straw at a faster rate, negating the need to burn crop residue, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Wednesday.

The initiative will cover 800-odd hectares of farmlands in Delhi where non-basmati variety of rice is grown, Kejriwal told a webcast, announcing the government’s decision ahead of the harvesting season which witnesses large scale stubble burning across north India for sowing the winter crops.

The farm fires, which go up sharply around mid October and peak during the first week of November, also degrade the air quality in the region.

Kejriwal acknowledged that the solution has come too late for it to be scaled up across states.

He said the government, under the supervision of ICAR experts, will start preparing the special solution from October 5 and that the mixture to be sprayed in the fields will be ready by October 12. “It is a little too late this time. But we will primarily target the 800-odd hectares of farm lands in Delhi where non-Basmati rice is produced and crop residue is left behind after harvesting. The Delhi government, based on consent from such farmers, will spray the solution in their fields for free,” Kejriwal said.

The CM said the entire initiative will cost the government around Rs 20 lakh.

The solution will help decompose the paddy straw into fertiliser, the CM said, adding that it will also prevent loss of soil fertility, which is one of the consequences of residue burning. “I appeal to the Centre to get the solution implemented in the neighbouring states as well,” Kejriwal said.

The IARI has developed PUSA Decomposer, which is a set of four tablets made by extracting fungi strains that help the paddy straw to decompose at a much faster rate than usual, giving farmers the option to shred the straw, spray a solution containing the fungal strains, and mix it with the soil for decomposition.

Under usual circumstances, shredded, watered paddy straw, which is mixed with soil, takes at least 45 days to decompose, not giving enough time to farmers to prepare fields for the wheat crop on time. But the PUSA Decomposer will decompose it in 25 days, IARI Director A K Singh recently told The Indian Express.

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