Bury the hay, don’t let Bengaluru go the Delhi way: Govt tells farmers

In a bid to keep city air clean, farm dept plans to give an incentive of Rs 500 per acre to farmers who choose not to burn harvest residues on field

This harvest season, the Agriculture department is going out of its way to encourage farmers to give up stubble burning (the practice of setting fire to the leftovers of crop harvest) with the aim to reduce air pollution and increase organic matter in fields, more importantly, in the outskirts of the city.

To avoid a New Delhi-like situation in Bengaluru, the department has decided to offer monetary incentives of up to Rs 500 per acre for farmers who don’t burn their agricultural residues. It is also encouraging farmers to hire rotovators that allows stubble to be cut into pieces and mixed with the soil to increase its fertility.

Confirming the decision, Agricultural minister Krishna Byre Gowda said the department has been trying to convince the farming community on the ill-effects of burning residues. “It is high time we relooked at some of the farm practices adopted over the years. Burning such huge quantity of organic matter is not only wasteful but also harmful. Further, the process also destroys nutrient-rich humus that is present on the soil surface. Since last year, we have been telling farmers not to burn
stubble but bury it by cutting them into pieces. This time we are pushing harder for it by offering an incentive of Rs 500 per acre,” the minister stated.

Heavy rains spanning two-three months have boosted farm activities in the state. A senior official from the department said: “Though delayed, rains have been beneficial in every aspect. Farmers have taken up cultivation of tur, ragi, jowar, paddy and other millets in several districts including Kolar, Rama­nagara, Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru and Chikkaballapura. While the stubble of some of these crops such as paddy and ragi is reused as fodder for livestock, farmers tend to burn the residues of other crops on the field itself. This does more damage than good.”
Officials say the sugarcane crop alone produces about 4,000 tonnes of leftover per acre. Considering the extent of its cultivation, about 25 to 30 lakh tonnes of waste is generated. Similarly, about 10 to 15 lakh tonnes of stubble of jowar, tur and other crops are set afire as it is difficult for the livestock to chew it.

“The government has already set up ‘Krishi Yantradhare’ centres where farmers can hire agricultural equipment. Rotovators are in great demand but we are pushing them further in great number especially in this season so that farmers can hire the equipment and cut the stubble into pieces, which can easily be mixed with the soil, thereby, enriching the land for future cultivation,” the minister said.

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