India’s top agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan has appealed to policymakers to find other methods to fight stubble burning instead of blaming farmers after the noxious smog engulfed the national capital for a few days.
In a series of tweets, Swaminath, widely credited for the country’s Green Revolution, has also pointed out that in South India, farmers don’t burn the stubble (for the next round of crops) but convert rice stubble into additional income by using it for animal feed or to make cardboard or paper.
“The air pollution in Delhi has become a matter of public health concern nationally and internationally. Farmers are being blamed by many including the Chief Minister of Delhi for burning stubble and thereby causing atmospheric pollution,” Swaminathan tweeted on Monday.
“In South India stubble is not burnt as there’s economic value as animal feed. For years I pointed out many economic uses of rice straw. We should adopt a do-ecology approach with farmers to convert rice stubble into income rather than making them agents of eco-disaster,” he said in another tweet.
As severe air quality gripped Delhi, about 46% of Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution load, the highest this season was contributed by crop stubble fires in neighbouring states on Friday according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research of ministry of earth sciences. There were over 3500 crop stubble fire locations in Punjab between October 23 and 30 compared to only 313 in Haryana as per NASA data collated by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Swaminathan’s tweets sparked a debate on how the administration could focus on income generation from stubble.
The scientist also said that his foundation had recently established a rice bio-park at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar which was funded by the ministry of external affairs and inaugurated by President of India. “The rice bio-park shows how stubble can be utilized to make products including paper, cardboard and animal feed,” he tweeted.
“I suggest that the Delhi, Haryana and UP govts put up Rice BioParks where farmers can convert stubble into income and employment. We should stop blaming farmers since it will take us nowhere. Instead we should propose methods which are economically & ecologically desirable,” he tweeted.