Massive demand for straw management machines in Punjab

Massive demand for straw management machines in Punjab

Over 1.5 lakh Punjab farmers apply for 24k+ straw management machines

Punjab is witnessing a surge in demand for machines that help manage farm residue, a major cause of severe air pollution in northern India every autumn due to stubble burning. Approximately 157,000 farmers have applied for 24,569 subsidized machines, which are set to be distributed this week, according to officials.

Among the applications, smart seeders, used for planting winter wheat without removing paddy stubble, make up a significant portion, with 59,000 requests. The Punjab agriculture department plans to provide 11,970 of these machines at subsidized rates to farmers, custom hiring centers, and panchayat groups.

For zero till drill machines, which are essential for stubble management, the department received 26,915 applications. The state government offers a 50% subsidy to individual farmers and an 80% subsidy to hiring centers and panchayat groups for these machines.

Balers and stubble collection:

The department will also provide 130 balers, costing ₹15 lakh to ₹20 lakh each, for collecting paddy stubble and creating bundles. Remarkably, 6,878 farmers have applied for these 130 machines.

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Additionally, the state government plans to provide 30 large balers, each worth ₹1 crore, capable of bundling hay from over 100 acres daily. These machines will be subsidized by 65%, with contributions from industries using stubble (25%) and hiring centers (10%).

Stubble management and air pollution:

Punjab cultivates paddy over 3 million hectares, resulting in massive stubble generation—around 10 million tonnes of which is typically burned, causing severe air pollution. Efforts are being made to promote ex-situ management, involving large industrial units and power plants that can use stubble as fuel.

This year, the Central government is providing a 60% grant of the ₹350 crore allocated funds for machine distribution, with the Punjab government contributing the rest. In previous years, despite distributing subsidized machines, stubble fires remained a concern, leading to environmental and health hazards. Last year saw a reduction in fires but still posed significant challenges.

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With the distribution of machines this year, the total number supplied for stubble management will reach 1.41 lakh, costing a total of ₹1,720 crore. Unlike previous years, the distribution will start as soon as paddy harvest begins on October 1, aiming to procure 180 lakh tonnes of paddy.

Efforts continue to combat stubble burning and its detrimental effects on air quality in the region.

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