The Pusa bio-decomposer developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) is a microbial solution that can turn paddy straw into manure in 15-20 days. Addressing a press conference here, Rai said the Delhi government will spray the bio-decomposer free of cost on 5,000 acres of basmati and non-basmati paddy fields this year. The government has constituted 21 teams to create awareness about the effectiveness of the bio-decomposer and register farmers who want to use the solution in their fields, he said. The minister said the government will not have to prepare the solution as the IARI has already readied it.
“We will buy it directly from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute here. Ten litres of solution can be mixed with 200 litres of water and directly sprayed on one acre of area,” he said. Rai also said the bio-decomposer will be sprayed on 5,000 acres or 2,023 hectares of land in Punjab on a trial basis. He said farmers in Punjab have expressed concern over the time taken by the solution to decompose paddy straw and the IARI scientists will look into the issue. A powdered version of the bio-decomposer is also available. The Delhi government will be using the Pusa bio-decomposer on agricultural land in the outer areas of the national capital for the third consecutive year. It was sprayed on 4,300 acres of land belonging to 844 farmers in Delhi last year. In 2020, 310 farmers had used it on 1,935 acres of land.
According to officials, spraying the bio-decomposer costs just Rs 30 per acre. In 2021, a third-party audit conducted to ascertain the impact of the microbial solution in Delhi showed that it was 95 per cent effective, following which Kejriwal had requested the Centre to distribute it for free in neighbouring states. Along with unfavourable meteorological conditions, paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana is a major reason behind the alarming spike in air pollution levels in the national capital in October and November. Farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue before cultivating wheat and potato.
According to the IARI, Punjab reported 71,304 farm fires between September 15 and November 30 last year and 83,002 farm fires in the corresponding period in 2020. Last year, the share of farm fires in Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution had peaked at 48 per cent on November 7.