Fields on Fire
2019 Finalist

Fields on Fire

Jagran Prakashan

New Delhi, India

Category Public Relations and Community Service

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign


Instagram: “Bryanadams: India you we’re incredible tonight. In this photo, if you look carefully you can see my shadow silhouetted in the dust and smoke of the venue over the audience. I’ve never seen that before.”

Around the time of Adams’ performance, 23mn farmers in neighboring states were burning agricultural stubble on 80,000sqkm, preparing their land for sowing. This stubble smoke- a lethal cocktail of particulate matter, carbondioxide, nitrogendioxide and sulphurdioxide, hangs ominously over Delhi’s air, likened by medics to smoking 50 cigarettes/day for its 20mn citizens!

This is Delhi’s tryst with environmental Armageddon.


Half of Delhi’s lung cancer patients are non-smokers. Half it’s 4.4mn schoolchildren have irreversibly stunted lung development. World Bank says healthcare fees and productivity losses from pollution cost India 8.5% of GDP – over $200bn/year

BUT FARMERS HAVE NO OPTION TO BURNING STUBBLE: Farmers have a very short window — 20 days, to clear their fields between harvesting Paddy and sowing rice. Crop harvesters leave stubble on 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.

HOW DO WE DOUSE THE FIRES? Lopsided Government procurement policy of rice and wheat promises quick cash to perennially debt-ridden farmers. They grow these in rapid succession, burning stubble to prepare fields quickly. Government 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 change the equilibrium. It isn't that the scientists and policymakers don't know what causes air pollution, or what it takes to tackle it. The problem is social and political as much as technological, and human problems are often harder to overcome than scientific ones. Hence our campaign to:

-        Help farmers in clearing fields without burning

-        Spread awareness on it’s environmental impact

Set practice and policy agenda for Government

Results for this campaign

TAKING THE MESSAGE TO GROUND ZERO: We sent 30 teams of experts to 608 villages. They conducted 196 live demonstrations at farms, and 134 workshops at village gatherings. These were attended by 21,533 farmers. Another 693 village heads attended who potentially took our message to 1,21,275 farmers.

A PROMISE NOT TO BURN RESIDUE: 7550 farmers and 693 village heads took an oath to not burn crop residue. 14590 farmers rented machines to remove crop residue.

CAUSE ADVOCACY: 540 agents of change became campaign ambassadors, who could potentially take the campaign to 80,000 farmers.

INVOLVING POLICY MAKERS AND SPECIALISTS: 50 panel discussions with experts and policymakers deliberating on methods of crop residue management. Discussions attended by 1652 farmers.

EXPLAINING THE MESSAGE: 45 rallies, 5 street plays and 21 Q&A sessions with experts conducted.

MAINSTREAMING THE CAUSE THROUGH EDITORIAL CONTENT: We wrote about the impact, the predicament of farmers, profiled agents of change, and highlighted policy alternatives for government. 413 stories printed in the newspaper equivalent to 48 newspaper pages.


  1. 1.      89,916 hectares of fields were NOT set on Fire

Resulting in 5,55,231 tonnes of crop residue NOT BURNT – saving the atmosphere from 1666 tonnes of particulate matter, 110602 tonnes of Ash, and 33000 tonnes of Carbon monoxide.


  1. 2.      Drop in Farm Fires by 48%

Farm fires dropped by 48% from 56417 fires in 2017 to 29240 instances in 2018

  1. 3.      Improvement in Air Quality Index (AQI) by 35%

AQI improved in Punjab & Haryana from 309 last year to 200 this year


  1. 4.      Adding INR 57mn to Farmer Incomes

We added to farmer incomes by encouraging them to convert crop residue to manure, by enabling them to sell crop residue to factories, and as cattle fodder.

  1. Delhi breathed easy : Air Quality Index in Delhi improved from 360.9 in Nov 2017 to 334.9 in Nov 2018


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