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EARTH

Crop Diversification

India’s Green Revolution of the 1960s ushered in an era of mono-cropping of high-yielding paddy and wheat. At the time, such practices were seen as the only way to achieve food production targets and much of this weight was borne by the two states of Punjab and Haryana.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Punjab and Haryana shifted from their traditional crops (maize, pearl millet, pulses and oilseeds) to the wheat-paddy cultivation cycle. Since Punjab and Haryana were the food bowl states, they were always expected to meet the country's needs. So a kind of pressure was created to outperform earlier achievements and these expectations were being fulfilled at the cost of water and soil which the state governments and the Centre were reluctant to see.
 
Millets, as it is held by many, offer a great alternative to rice as they don’t need much water, are pest resilient, have a very long shelf life and are profitable. Research also finds millets to be heat tolerant making them a sensible crop choice in a changing climate.
 
Although the 2018 Millets Mission led to the inclusion of grain in the public distribution system, quotas are still small.
 
From a typical small farmer’s standpoint, given a choice between a cash crop such as paddy, with guaranteed procurement, versus millets and other crops that are presumed to be difficult to grow and market, the transition may not be viable just yet.
 
Even if the farmer wishes to make the switch, in most of the cases he does not have the capacity. Such farmers need to be enabled and for that, therefore the transition to other crops has to be supported and streamlined. 
 
Such an overhaul is going to take more than just subsidies. It also requires educating farmers and equipping them to cultivate in ways that were once commonplace.
 
We intend to be a strategic connector of information, resources and knowledge between state, market and civil society to help our farmers who brought India back from the brink.

Biochar

Biochar is a solid black material obtained from pyrolysis of stubble or farm biomass in an anaerobic environment. Biochar can not only help with enhancing soil fertility through carbon sequestration but also in curbing the air pollution.

Various national universities and laboratories are working on biochar from stubble but techno-commercial adoption is still found wanting. This can be stimulated through grants and CSR donations.

 

As in the case of petrol blending of ethanol, the government can also be made to consider making policies to blend biochar in charcoal in the ratio of 10 to 20 percent.

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