Pained at seeing paddy residue going up in flames all around his village, a little-known farmer of Sahzada village, a few kilometres from the border town, came up with an innovative solution to dissuade his fellowmen from the practice.
A matriculate with a diploma from an ITI, Ranjit Singh, designed a machine to take care of agricultural residue.
"The smoke rising from burning of paddy residue causes harm to the environment and humans. So I made up my mind to design a machine that would take care of agri residue, particularly the paddy residue," said Ranjit, while working at his garage-cum-workshop, 'Wahla Mechanical Works', on Dera Baba Nanak road in this town.
Having just nine acres of land, he needed money to start his venture. He went for a bank loan and after labouring for four years, he finally came up with a machine last year, which he put to test in his own fields after cutting the paddy in October last year. The test run proved to be a success and he showed his discovery to the Amritsar district agricultural department officials who gave him the thumbs up.
"I have yet to give a name to this innovation of mine. But in simple terms, it is multi-utility shredder or grinder. It can grind both paddy straw and even stubs and also wheat," he added, while pointing out that on a number of occasions he had to come up with new innovation and designs as the shredder did not give the desired results.
"Sometimes, I did feel like giving up the project but I do not know what kept me going," he added.
Ranjit said there were many machines grinding wheat straw lying in the fields, but the size of the shredded straw or stubs was large and could not be mixed in the soil very easily.
"However, my innovative machine cuts the paddy straw and the stubs to fine pieces which can be easily mixed in the soil," said Ranjit.
Chief agricultural officer (CAO) BS Sohal, who recently saw a demonstration of the shredder at Nangal Sohal village, pointed out that Ranjit had demonstrated this multi-utility machine to experts of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and they too were impressed by his innovation.
"The wheat crop sown in the fields where this shredder was used for shredding the paddy stubs and straw after the paddy harvesting season last year is in excellent health. The farmers used less fertilisers as the shredded straw proved to be a healthy natural manure for the wheat crop that was sown in November", said Sohal.
He added as a shredder cost around Rs 2.50 lakh, the agricultural department would be providing these machines on custom hiring bases to the farmers of the area. He plans to demonstrate this shredder at every block level during the upcoming wheat-harvesting season.