Crop residue burning is one of the major issues of concern not only for agriculture but for the society as a whole. Punjab and Haryana are burning almost 30 million tonnes of crop residues annually. Isolation and technologies alone are not sufficient to address this challenge until there is awareness among the farmers.
The ICAR-Zonal Project Directorate through Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of Haryana and Punjab, ICAR institutes, State Departments of Agriculture, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), farmers’ organisations and other sections of society organised Pakhwara a 15-days programme on Mass Awareness on Residue Burning.
Dr. Alok K Sikka, DDG, Natural Resource Management, ICAR, informed the farmers that burning of crop residue leads to release of smoke, green house gases in addition to the loss of plant nutrients. The crop residue can be used for soil health improvement, increasing productivity and increasing sustainability and resilience of agriculture. He urged the farmers to adopt resource conservation technologies and steps to be taken for making their village as climate smart village under the changing scenario of climate change. He further emphasised that ICAR and CIMMYT together with other agencies are actively engaged in promoting climate smart practices under CCAFS and National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) together.
Dr. AK Singh, DDG (Agri Extension Division of ICAR) presided over the function and gave an overview of the activities and initiatives taken during the Pakhwara and urged the farmers to keep themselves away from residue burning as this is against law and contribute to environmental pollution and global warming. He also elaborated the need of such programme and the learning of this programme will be taken care during main rice straw burning season as well.
Dr. Rameshwar Singh, Project Director, Directorate of Knowledge Management in Agriculture (DKMA), ICAR, informed the gathering about the ill effects of residue burning and elaborated the communication strategies and plans for scaling out climate smart villages.
Dr. Rajbir Singh, Zonal Project Director, Zone-1, informed that more than 15,000 farmers were contacted through Kisan Gosthis, Sandhya Pheris, group meetings with village Panchayats; more than 15 contests were organised for essay and slogan of the theme; more than one lakh advisories and literature were released and distributed to the farmers, besides delivering more than 15 radio and TV talks to make mass awareness against residue burning.
While introducing the objectives of the programme, Dr. ML. Jat, CIMMYT-CCAFS South Asia Coordinator informed the gathering about the joint efforts for scaling climate smart agricultural practices through climate smart villages under CCAFS and NICRA.