Fields on Fire
Media associated with this campaign
Overview of this campaign
DELHI - THE MOST POLLUTED CITY ON EARTH
#DelhiGasChamber was trending during November.
Air pollution levels were 48 times WHO’s guideline value.
Schools were shut.
Indian Medical Association declared a public health emergency.
Merely breathing was akin to smoking 50 cigarettes/day !!
Meanwhile, in neighboring state of Haryana, farmers were busy preparing their land for the sowing season. That preparation meant burning millions of tonnes of agricultural stubble, triggering heavy pollution in Delhi. The burning fields are visible from space and suffocate Delhi.
THE FARMERS HAVE NO OPTION TO BURNING
Farmers have a very short window — 20 days, to clear their fields between harvesting Paddy and sowing rice. Crop harvesters leave paddy stubble on the fields, which has to be quickly removed. But removal is expensive as machines cost INR 1000/hr and labour costs INR 4000/hectare. A matchbox costs just Re 1 – the most economically “viable” option is burning the stubble.
In Haryana, 9 mn tonnes of stubble is burnt releasing 13mn tonnes of CarbonDioxide, 18000 tonnes of SuphurDioxide, 550,000 tonnes of CarbonMonoxide, 27000 tonnes of Particulate Matter and 1.8mn tonnes of Ash – a heady cocktail that hangs ominously over Delhi’s air and felt in the lungs of its 20 mn citizens.
Additionally, stubble burning damages the soil and micro-organisms, resulting in loss of nutrients.
SO, HOW DO WE DOUSE THE FIRES?
Lopsided Government procurement policy of rice and wheat promises quick cash to the perennially debt-ridden farmers. They grow these in rapid succession, burning stubble to prepare fields quickly.
National Green Tribunal imposed fines on burning stubble, but coercion wouldn’t work. Moral arguments too wouldn’t work. The farmer needed alternatives. At Dainik Jagran, we decided to intervene and change the equilibrium. It’s a subject of behavioral economics to design a mindset change, not one dictated by the judiciary or bureaucracy. Our campaign sought to:
- Spread awareness on stubble burning’s impact on soil fertility and environment
- Suggest alternative measures
Set practice and policy agenda for the Government
Results for this campaign
A TEAM OF EXPERTS CREATED AWARENESS: 80 experts and 86 members from our team visited 288 villages. They highlighted impact on environment and soil fertility, and suggested alternates. Village heads from nearby 161 villages attended workshops.
A PROMISE NOT TO BURN RESIDUE: 5040 farmers and 449 village heads took an oath to not burn crop residue.
INVOLVING POLICY MAKERS AND SPECIALISTS: 19 panel discussions with experts and policymakers deliberating on methods for crop residue management.
CHILDREN RALLIED AGAINST CROP RESIDUE BURNING: Carrying the message to over 4000 farmers
CAUSE ADVOCACY: 130 farmers who adopted alternate methods of crop residue removal, were nominated as agents of change. Honored at public meetings, they worked as campaign ambassadors.
MAINTREAMING THE CAUSE THROUGH EDITORIAL CONTENT: We set the agenda on crop residue management for readers and government. We wrote about the impact, the predicament of farmers, profiled agents of change, and highlighted policy alternatives for government.
Reduction in Farm Fires by 21%
Number of active fires in Haryana reduced from 11,195 in 2016 to 8,861 in 2017.
(Data period 7th Oct – 17th Nov, 2017 vs 2016)
Agricultural Associations reacted
- Farmer’s association to create a report on handling crop residue
- Agriculture Department announced the creation of a team of scientists to share research findings with farmers on alternative methods of crop residue management.
- Awareness camps to be setup across the state before the next sowing season
Affirmative Government Action
- Central Agriculture Minister proposed :
- INR 120mn subsidy on buying Happy Seeders, Straw Balers, Straw Rippers
- Labor made available under central government scheme for crop residue removal
- Stories of 130 Agents of change showcased on government website
- Four Custom Hiring Centers commissioned - a group of farmers will purchase and use crop residue removal machinery at subsidized cost.
Impact on Brand : Dainik Jagran overtook the market leader and became the No.1 newspaper in the state with 1.3 mn readers as per the Indian Readership Survey 2017