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There has been a sharp rise in the incidents of fire since last week in Punjab and Haryana. Punjab, where almost all parts were set on fire in the last four days has already recorded over 5,021 fire incidents since May 2 and the maximum of 1,291 incidents was recorded alone on one day.

So, why exactly are farmers setting their crops on fire? How is it harmful to the crops and the environment? Here is everything you would want to know about this method of farming. Plumes of smoke is a common sight in the state of Punjab especially during the harvesting season of rice and the reason for the same is ‘Stubble farming’

What is stubble farming and why it is practised?

Stubble farming is setting the farm on fire to burn the residues of crops like rice and wheat. In India, still the mechanised method of harvesting is practised for crops like rice, which leaves the stubble on the farm and the farms burn the stubble to get rid of the residue. Also, as the harvesting time between rice and growing wheat is very less, stubble farming is the easiest and convenient method to get rid of the stubble.

How is it harming the environment and health?

Burning of straw emits poisonous gases like carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and a large amount of particulate matter in the environment which degrades the quality of air and the toxic elements in the air also contributes to hazardous impacts on the health causing respiratory problems and other health issues. Apart from that it also degrades the quality of soil because the burning of stubble impacts the fertility of the soil.

Is there any way out?

Power industries have offered a way out for this. A Rice straw proves to be a good source of generating electricity and they are encouraging farmers to sell the stubble. It can not only be an additional source of income for farmers but can also prevent the air from polluting.

However, like every year there have been records of farmers setting crops on fire which make it clear this solution isn't practiced.

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Author- Neha Wadhwa

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