ICAR-Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute (ATARI), Ludhiana, in collaboration with Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) organized a one-day Stakeholders’ Meet on Crop Residue Management (CRM) on 29th September 2023. The event commenced with paying a befitting tribute to renowned agricultural scientist and father of the Indian Green Revolution, Dr MS Swaminathan, who passed away recently. The meet was attended by senior officers from relevant departments in the State Governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), academia, various stakeholder agencies, farmers, social groups and NGOs, representatives from agricultural machinery manufacturing industries, and biomass industry associations.
The Chief Guest, S. Gurmeet Singh Khudian, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of Punjab hailed the efforts and policy support of the state and union government on CRM. He assured the facilitation of procurement of machinery worth Rs. 350 crores in the state on a subsidy basis for efficient CRM. He also urged the farmers to adopt various approaches for paddy stubble management as recommended by the varsity; to diversify their crop choices, and highlighted the potential of cultivating alternative crops that could contribute to both farmers’ prosperity and ecological sustainability.
Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, Ludhiana, expressed his concern over the huge expenses incurred on machinery and their operational cost by the farmers. He proposed increasing baler capacity, deploying more machinery in high-burning areas, involving cooperative societies for support, and replicating successful initiatives. Underscoring the value of paddy straw as a nutrient-rich resource for improving soil properties, he exhorted the farmers to adopt cost-effective Surface Seeding-cum-Mulching Technology, which prevents lodging, reduces irrigation, herbicidal spray, and weed infestation.
The Vice-Chancellor of GADVASU, Ludhiana, Dr. Inderjeet Singh, also addressed the need for in-situ management of crop residue, highlighting the significance of retaining friendly microbes in the soil, that are unfortunately destroyed as a result of farm fires. He pointed out that feeding treated paddy straw to animals has not only witnessed good animal health but higher milk yield too.
Dr. Ranjay Kumar Singh, ADG (Agricultural Extension), ICAR put greater stress on the resilience of conservation agriculture (CA) aided by the CRM tools and techniques against climate change challenges. He reiterated that CRM-led CA has several positive externalities in terms of water conservation, reduction of dependence on chemicals, and mitigated impact of terminal heat especially in wheat crop. He informed that the Government of India is very vigilant on this aspect and is regularly monitoring the outcome through periodic review meetings.
Earlier Director, ICAR-ATARI, Zone-I, Ludhiana, Dr. Parvender Sheoran, shared an exhaustive report on the ‘Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Activities under CRM Project led by ICAR through 60 KVKs of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. A ‘Roadmap for 2023’ was unveiled, wherein different activities under ‘Parali Prabandhan Chetna Yatra’ and ‘Technology Sensitization and Awareness Pakhwara’ will be organized at Regional, District, Block and village levels while addressing issues that concern CRM, mobilizing 8 lakh farmers and 250 villages to be targeted as ‘burn-free’.
Dr. Gursahib Singh Manes, ADR, PAU, Ludhiana, highlighted the challenges, and status of machines for in-situ and ex-situ management of crop residue, especially the paddy straw, and the outcome of the efforts on CRM in Punjab through his presentation.
Dr. Gurmeet Singh Buttar, DEE, PAU, Ludhiana, presented a formal vote of thanks.