Sangrur farmers defy union, say no to stubble-burning

Parvesh Sharma
Tribune News Service
Sangrur, October 10

Despite being egged on by farmer organisations to set stubble afire, several farmers in the district have not burnt wheat/paddy stubble for the past many years and are also spreading awareness against the menace.

“I have not burnt straw for the past 14 years. I have been saving money by ploughing stubble back into the soil. Till last year, 37 families had joined my campaign. This year, this number will cross 60,” said Jagdeep Singh, a farmer from Kanoi village who has been sowing wheat/paddy on around 35 acres.

Farmers of the village said initially, they borrowed happy seeders from rich farmers of their villages, but later purchased the machines and have been using their own since then.

The story is the same in some other villages, including Longowal, Ugrahan and Taranji Khera. Though the supply of happy seeders and other machines is less than the demand, farmers are hopeful that the number will increase gradually.

“Earlier, there was only one happy seeder in our village, but this year the figure has reached five. Five more are being released in a few days. Farmers must give up straw-burning on their own and not expect anything from the government,” said Ugrahan village resident Dharminder Singh, who has not burnt stubble for the past around nine years.

As per figures of the district agriculture department, 2.83 lakh hectares are under paddy cultivation, while the number of happy seeders this year will reach 1,500, up from last year’s 700.

“Most of the farmers have understood the gravity of the situation and are responding positively to our camps. Last year, we succeeded in preventing field fires in 40 per cent of the area in the district. This year, we hope to increase the percentage,” said Dr Baldev Singh, Chief Agriculture Officer, Sangrur.

Dr Mandeep Singh, Associate Director of PAU Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kheri, said creating awareness was more important than providing equipment.

“There are around 100 farmers in the district who have not burnt stubble for the past several years,” said Dr AS Mann, president, Scientific Awareness and Social Welfare Forum, who has been honouring farmers for shunning the eco-unfriendly practice.

Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Vishwajeet Khanna on Monday presided over a meeting of local officers and directed them to take strict action against stubble-burning.