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Report on CII initiative with farmers shows behaviour change is important for tackling air pollution
Sep 16, 2020

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Large-scale behaviour change on air pollution is possible, if actionable and affordable solutions are provided to farming communities on time, according to a new report released by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Based on a CII intervention, the report proves that such initiatives lower also costs for farmers.

CII Cleaner Air Better Life Report (2020): Impacts & Learnings of Crop Residue Management Programme is a study conducted by CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development through primary data collected from farmers in 102 villages of Punjab and Haryana where the CII programme was carried out from September 2019 to June 2020.

As per the study, solutions adopted under the intervention were not only environmentally sustainable but were also cost-effective to farmers. Farmers, on an average, paid 10% lesser than the cost of burning for newly adopted in-situ management practices in the CII intervened areas. The assessment highlights that in-situ management in non-intervention areas is still not cost-effective (7-8% higher cost compared to burning) which explains large instances of fire across the two states despite the subsidy scheme on farm tools.

The role of shared-economy model is crucial for scaling use of farm tools which are needed by farmers for only a few hours for a few days in a year. Even under the shared economy model or intervention group, ex-situ costs 48% more (INR 4350 per acre) compared to burning. Ex-situ is the only solution for farmers who cannot utilise rice straw at the field due to field-specific challenges. Therefore, scaling up of ex-situ solutions will require a significant intervention in future to address this source of air pollution, in its entirety.

The study reveals that a total of 87% of 20855 farmers in the CII intervened area across Punjab and Haryana implemented improved crop residue management practices in 2019 and substituted crop residue burning. The adoption of improved crop residue management practices (mulching, soil-incorporation and baling) went up by 83% in one year from 2018 to 2019.
Overall, 64% of rice straw which was being managed through crop residue burning in the previous year, came down to 24% in one year as a result of concerted efforts with farming communities in 2019-20.

A total of 183 thousand tonnes of rice straw was avoided from burning, resulting in savings of 1.3 thousand tonnes of coarse particulate matter (PM10), 770 tonnes of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), 3 thousand tonnes of  gaseous pollutants which are also precursors to fine particles, 0.2 million tonnes  GHGs and 86 tonnes of Black Carbon.

Onsite diesel emissions from the in-situ management practices adopted (both mulching and soil incorporation) are on an average 23% lower compared to the conventional practice of burning. Direct reuse of 158 thousand tonnes of organic matter at the field resulted in total water savings worth 10 billion litres which is especially relevant for the two agrarian states.

16 September 2020

New Delhi

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