ISLAMABAD – Every year, about 16 million tons of paddy straw is produced in Pakistan, of which about 60 percent is burnt. Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) organized a national awareness seminar in Gujranwala district to prevent the burning of paddy stubble and to educate and train farmers, in which officials of the Punjab Agriculture Department, agricultural machinery manufacturers, representatives of companies providing machinery services to farmers and farmers participated, according to a press release.
National Project Director of Prime Minister’s Agricultural Emergency Programme for Wheat Productivity Enhancement, Dr. Muhammad Yaqoob, highlighted the incentives given to farmers and the steps taken in this project. Dr. Sikandar Khan Tanveer Program Leader (Wheat Department) PARC also informed the participants about the measures taken regarding the wheat crop.
Director of Agricultural Engineering Institute of PARC Dr. Hafiz Sultan Mehmood briefed all the participants about the machinery designed by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and other institutions in this regard. In the seminar, Director of Agriculture (Extension) Mr. Dr. Javed Iqbal, Director Agriculture (Adaptive Research) Dr. Muzamil Hussain Kahlu also highlighted the importance and measures of non-burning of crop residue and incentives and subsidies given to farmers.
Apart from this, agricultural machinery manufacturers including agricultural service providers and farmers also expressed their views. All the paddy straw disposal machines were displayed in the hall about which the participants were given a practical briefing. Chief guest of the seminar, Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council Mr. Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali gave a special address to the participants and emphasized that under no circumstances should the paddy stubble be set on fire, but instead should come to mechanical solution.
The Government of Pakistan has given subsidies on all the machines for growing paddy and all other crops from which the farmers should take full advantage. In this regard, chairman, PARC emphasised the farming community to contacts officials of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and Punjab Agriculture Department who will guide them in time. He further said that burning of crop residues in fields is destroying the health of our agricultural lands. It burns organic matter, alter soil pH, nutrients and damages living micro-organisms which play an important role in increasing crop production.
Straw is rich in fiber, protein, starch, enzymes and organic materials that make the soil fertile. Besides, this straw can be used in paper and cardboard industry. The chairman further said that burning of straw creates carbon dioxide, smoke and other gases in the air which are causing smog and other diseases. Climate change is happening due to these gases, heat waves rise in temperature and heavy rainfall are serious problems related to agriculture, which are indirectly affecting Pakistan.
In the end, Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali urged the manufacturer of agricultural machinery and service providers to pay special attention on training and awareness of farmers to prevent crop residue burning so that farmers can be saved from heavy fines and penalties.