(GIST OF YOJANA) Addressing Stubble Burning with Cooperative Model [DECEMBER-2019]
(GIST OF YOJANA) Addressing
Stubble Burning with Cooperative Model
Addressing Stubble Burning with
Pollution by stubble burning lias become an annual phenomenon in large
parts of northern India. Rice-growing States including Punjab. Haryana,
Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi add to the problem of stubble burning. Managing the
stubble becomes a constraint for the farmers because of the adopted cropping
The only reason to burn this asset that can yield income and fertility
to the soil is the small gap of time between harvesting of paddy and sowing
of wheat, the other main crop. Also, the fanners have limited access to
dispose of the straw, clean the land and prepare the seedbed for wheat well
Rice was not a traditional crop of Punjab; but with increased
availability of electricity, the number of tube wells increased, which in
turn increased the areas for cultivation of paddy replacing the areas under
cultivation of pulses and other commercial crops in the kharif season.
Punjab had been contributing about 60 per cent of the share in the food
stocks of paddy even with only 1.5 percent of the area. Apart from burning
of paddy straw, the State has other problems like overuse of chemicals,
depletion in the water table, etc.
Disposing stubble is not a problem:
Disposing the paddy straw is not a problem that has no solution; rather,
it is simple and remunerative and must be adopted at the earliest. Fanners
of Punjab arc known for their ability, initiatives and entrepreneurial
They would immediately adopt anything that is remunerative, but
sometimes the encouragement and sponsorship of the State become imperative.
The Minimum Support Price (MSP) was provided to paddy along with its
marketing assurance by State procurement. There are only two crops, wheat
and paddy, that have assured marketing through State procurement.
But for 23 other crops for which MSP is announced, State procurement is
not assured. Reduction of the sizable area under paddy would not be a
feasible alternative in order to ensure enough food stock.
The issue of straw burning has to be settled through other measures like
manufacturing of paper and cardboard, production of mushroom where paddy
straw can be used as raw material, etc. But there is scepticism that an
individual farmer may not install such a unit irrespective of the size of
the farm he is holding.
Also, a single unit even of the largest size cannot be economical
because the straw is spread throughout the area and transportation to a
single point would be a big constraint.
Therefore, the cooperative model already experienced in the dairy is the
most viable and prudent option in addressing this problem. There is a need
of at least two cardboard and paper manufacturing units in every block.
A cooperative society in the area with the membership of local farmers
and farm labourers can be formed and such units must be affiliated to the
apex body of the State federation of cooperative for rice straw management.
The Cooperative Department is already in the field to sponsor and help
Such patronisation can yield the most desirable results not only to
tackle this problem but also to generate income and employment in the State.
Production of bio-gas needs technical help and extension services.
The cooperative umbrella of the same pattern can however help the
farmers and farm labourers throughout the State in this venture.
Dr. G.S. Bhalla, renowned economist, in his study had concluded that a
holding with less than 10 acre is unable to provide sufficient income to
maintain their moderate standard of living but in Punjab 89% of the farmers
have their holding less than this size.
These farmers are therefore unable to take any risk either of volatile
price or of marketing. In the case of rice, price and marketing is assured.
The same assurance has to be granted for the alternative crops to
increase the area of cultivation under them. Basmati is a variety of rice
that is grown on the river banks, India and Pakistan being its major
The supply cannot fulfil the demand of foreign orders. Punjab cannot
discard this single much paying export crop, albeit it involves the problem
of stubble burning. Basmati is the single crop that is exported worth about
Rs 2688 million (Raj Kumar and Singh 2019) in the year 2017-18, where Punjab
is a main contributor.
Stubble burning has to be stopped. But looking into the real problem at
micro as well as macro level concerned with food security and concerns of
the farm community at large, it should be dealt sympathetically with the
alternative measures, and cooperative model stands out to be the most
appropriate approach to address this problem, which is more viable and
Small-scale farmers would be satisfied with less but assured income than
to drift towards commercial crops irrespective of their profit that have any
risk of fluctuating price and yield.