IMPHAL, JANUARY 30, 2018 (DIPR): Agriculture Minister Shri V.Hangkhanlian today said mass awareness programme on effects of burning rice residues on soil and environment is necessary to maintain the good soil condition in thase State. He was speaking as the Chief Guest at the Brain Storming Workshop on Rice Residue Burning in Manipur-Issue and Strategies for Sustainable Management held at Hotel Classic Grande, Imphal.

The Minister said that Soil Health Card (SHC) which gives each farmer the soil nutrient status of his land holding, is a major initiative of the Government and is being taken up in the State to increase agricultural production. He also stated that issuing Soil Health Card to farmers is meaningless, if the burning of rice residues continues.

Shri V.Hangkhanlian said that Paddy/rice is cultivated in around 2.2 lakh hectares of land and rice residues from about 60 percent area (1.32lakh hectres) is burnt in the month of November/December after rice harvesting. Crops residue burning is one among the many sources of air pollution. Burning of farm wastes causes severe land and water pollution. This adversely affects the nutrient budget in the soil, he added.

The Minister further stated that straw carbon, nitrogen and sulphur are completely lost in the atmosphere when burnt resulting in degradation of soil and adversely affecting crop production. He urged as agriculture scientists to work to publish papers in journals stressing on adopting new technology to the farmers. The Minister also urged CAU, ICAR, NGOs, State Departments, working in agriculture and allied sectors to come forward to help the farmers in the sector of  Agri-business and agro-based entrepreneurship development in the state.

Minister V.Hangkhanlian further said that agriculture, allied activities and farmers community are the backbone of the State`s economy. The State has been conferred “Krishi Karman Award” 2011-12 and 2012-13 consecutively in recognition of rice production. Despite rapid advancement in crop productivity, rapid population growth is a challenge.

During the workshop resource persons spoke on the effects of burning of rice straws and measures to be taken up for soil and environment protection and prevention of air pollutions. Delegates from ICAR, NABARD, line departments, KVK, NGOs, farmers from different districts participated in the workshop organized by Indian Association of Hill Farming, Meghalaya in collaboration with ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Meghalaya and Central Agricultural University, Imphal and co-sponsored  by NABARD, Manipur Regional Office, Department of Agriculture, Government of Manipur, Directorate of Environment, Government of Manipur.

Also attending the workshop were Additional Chief Secretary-Shri Dr.Suhel Aktar IAS, Vice Chancellor Manipur University-Shri Prof. Adya Prasad Pandey, Director, Directorate of Environment, Government of Manipur Shri Dr.Y. Nabachandra Singh, Director,  Department of Agriculture Shri Ph.Rajendra Singh and General Manager, NABARD, Manipur Region Office, Shri  P.N Praveen Kumar as Chief Guest, Guests of Honour and Special Guests respectively.

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