At a time when government is finding it hard to convince farmers against stubble burning, which leads to pollution, using carrot and stick approach, two farmers from Samrala have come up with a probable solution.
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 the crop residue. This will not only save the environment by stopping stubble burning, but add to the farmers’ income as well.
Two tonnes of biocoal sample have been sent to Europe for using it in thermal plant. The company, Farm2energy at Manki village in Samrala that was started in 2016, is also trying to bid for National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).
Not only the residue of paddy crop, sugarcane and corn stubble are also being used by the company for making biocoal.
Dhaliwal told The Indian Express, “Like 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,” said Dhaliwal.
Dhaliwal and Singh had roped in friends from Ludhiana for investment. As per them, it is in crores. So far, they have not got any financing from bank as there is no clear policy of the government for financing agricultural equipment.
Dhaliwal said in 2016 and 2017, they collected crop residue and sold it to biomass and cement manufacturing plants to be used as biofuel and earned Rs 30-35 lakh in two years. Last year, they cleared 12,000 acres in Ludhiana, Patiala and adjoining places, while this year’s target is 20,000 acres, out of which 10,000 acres will be of paddy farms alone. As of now, the company has cleared fields in Manki, Gharkhana, Gagra, Bondal, Uttla, Kulewal and Seh – all in 3 km radius of Samrala area of Ludhiana.
The expenditure for clearing the land is around Rs 7,000 per acre. “We are doing this free of cost,” said Preet Chandoke, one of the investors, adding they are waiting for a response from the Europe-based company.
Dhaliwal said that their future plans are to export pellets/stubble powder to Europe. “We are clearing the fields free of cost and hence the farmers are facing no hassles in sowing next crop. The whole issue with the farmers is the expenditure incurred in clearing the stubble and ploughing the field back, which is leading to the environmental pollution,” said Dhaliwal.