We burn stubble not out of choice: farmers

The tractor mounted Happy Seeder machine can cut and lift the previous crop (in this case the rice straw) and sow a new (wheat) crop in its place. It also deposits the straw over the sown area as mulch.
The machine can be operated with a 45 hp tractor and covers about one acre in about an hour and a quarter. But Surjit Singh, 62, who has planted paddy in around eight acres, says, “I have a tractor of only 35 hp and hence I can’t put the Happy Seeder to use in my field. Not only this, the price of diesel has risen sharply in recent months. After harvesting paddy, just to clean the stubble from my field by using machinery attached to the tractor or engaging labour will cost me around Rs. 5,000-Rs. 6000/acre. Who will bear this cost? If government assures of paying the amount, I’ll not burn paddy straw; otherwise I have no other option. I’ll burn the stubble and I am ready to face the legal consequences of defiance,” he says. Lakhbir Singh, a member of the Rolu Majra Co-operative Society, says, “One Happy Seeder machine is inadequate. Many more such machines are required to effectively check stubble burning.” There are around 3,500 co-operative societies in the State. “Also, this year the State government has made the use of super straw management system (SMS) compulsory with combine harvester to facilitate in-situ management of crop residue. But this has again added to our cost, which has gone up from around Rs. 1,200/acre last year to Rs. 2,000/acre this season,” says Gurmekh Singh, 60, who has sown paddy in his three acre plot. A Super SMS attached to the rear of a combine harvester chops and uniformly spreads loose straw coming out of the combine on the field. Several farmer unions have declared they will continue to burn paddy stubble unless the government suitably compensates them for the expenses incurred on alternative methods other than burning for disposing the crop residue.
Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/we-burn-stubble-not-out-of-choice-farmers/article25217644.ece

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