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MS Swaminathan’s idea to cut stubble burning: Commercialise paddy straw

Breathless in Delhi Updated: Nov 07, 2016 00:49 IST
Air pollution

A farm labourer burns paddy stubble in a field on the outskirts of Jalandhar in Punjab.(AFP Photo)

With Delhi choking on smog created by burning of paddy straw in neigbhouring states, noted agri-scientist MS Swaminathan has suggested ways to commercialise the straw to help tide over the problem.

Swaminathan said paddy straw can be used for making animal feed, cardboard, paper and other products. He will soon send a detailed note to the PM in this regard.

“I have told the Prime Minister how we can make use of paddy straw instead of burning it. You cannot ask a farmer to stop burning paddy straw as he has to prepare his field for the next crop. You must find a mechanism to commercialise it,” Swaminathan said.

Read: Delhi sees season’s most polluted day, situation might improve this week

A technology has been developed in Maharashtra for using paddy straw as animal feed, he said.

“You add urea and molasses in paddy straw, you can use it as animal feed. There are many different ways, paddy straw can be utilised. The PM was very interested and I will soon send a note to him on this topic,” he said.

India produces 140 million tonnes of paddy and 280 million tonnes of rice straw in a year, he added.

Swaminathan, known as Father of India’s Green Revolution, was sharing the dais with the Prime Minister at first ever international conference of agro-biodiversity.

While addressing the event, he spoke on the issue saying that when we talk about agro-biodiversity, it is not about grains alone but about the whole plant.

“Paddy straw enriched with urea and molasses is a wonderful animal feed,” he said while citing example of research work done in Mynamar in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Centre has called a meeting of environment ministers of all neighbouring states on Monday to curb stubble burning by farmers which has made Delhi a “gas chamber”.

“There is an emergency situation in Delhi. The situation is bad, particularly for children, patients, women and elderly. We need to take immediate steps to deal with the situation,” Union Environment Minister Anil Dave had said.

Cases of severe breathlessness, asthma and allergy have sharply risen in Delhi as the city remains blanketed in thick layer of toxic air due to the worst smog in 17 years, aggravated by use of Diwali crackers last week.