Policy Engagements and Blogs

Clearing the Air Seminar Series: ‘Crop Burning as a source of Air Pollution in National Capital Region’

Navroz K Dubash

February 28, 2018

Watch the full video (above) of the panel discussion with Dr ML Jat, Pritam Singh Hanjra and Dr Rajbir Yadav, moderated by Harish Damodaran, on crop burning as a source of air pollution in the National Capital Region. Every year, for some weeks in October and November, farmers in many parts of Punjab and Haryana burn the crop residue on their land to prepare for the next sowing season, leading to a sharp spike in the air pollution. While contextualising the event, the moderator suggested that the solution to the problem had to come from within the agriculture sector. The discussion that followed highlighted the various technical interventions, including conservation agriculture techniques and the Happy Seeder, which could be adopted by the agricultural community, and the challenges that it is likely to encounter while doing so.

Dr M L Jat is a Senior Cropping Systems Agronomist and CIMMYT-CCAFS South Asia Coordinator in New Delhi and a fellow at the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS). He has served as a senior scientist at the Directorate of Maize Research, New Delhi, and a scientist at Project Directorate for Cropping Systems Research along with heading international missions and holding many other key research positions at premium agriculture institutions in India. His research work is focused on conservation agriculture, precision farming and climate smart agriculture and has a direct impact on improving livelihoods of farmers by providing viable farming options through policy recommendations.

Pritam Singh Hanjra is a resident of Urlana Khurd, District Panipat. Though not formally trained, agricultural scientists and experts have learnt from his field experiments, and the IARI has awarded him a Fellowship. A major innovation was reduction of water consumption by a third for Basmati rice cultivation.

Dr Rajbir Yadav is Principal Scientist, Division of Genetics, IARI, New Delhi. He is working on development of varieties of wheat, hybrids of maize and pearl millet keeping in view cropping system perspective and sustainability. Dr Yadav is carrying out a project on breeding for conservation agriculture, and has developed ten varieties of wheat, and three varieties of Indian mustard, two varieties of wheat for conservation agriculture.

Harish Damodaran is a veteran journalist who has worked with several prestigious newspapers and news agencies in India. He is currently the Rural Affairs and Agriculture Editor at The Indian Express. He has specialized in agri-business and commodities coverage. He is a recipient of the World Food Day Award from the UN Food & Agricultural Organization and the Indian Association for the Advancement of Science in recognition of his work as a farm reporter.

This is the fifth event in the Clearing the Air Seminar Series, organised by the Initiative on Climate, Energy and Environment (ICEE) at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR). The series aims to promote sustained and informed public understanding around the data, impacts, sources and policy challenges involved in clearing Delhi’s air. While it will focus on the context of Delhi, the series will also reflect on the fact that the problem extends far beyond Delhi. The seminar series will present the work of experts in a range of areas to help promote informed public discussion about what changes are needed, what is possible, and how to get it done. Clearing the air in terms of knowledge and public information, we hope, will make a small contribution toward actually clearing Delhi’s air.

Presentation by Dr ML Jat can be accessed here and Dr Rajbir Yadav can be accessed here.

The question and answer session that followed can be accessed here.