February 08, 2024 Nagpur: The ICAR-Central Institute of Research on Cotton Technology (Circot) on Wednesday distributed 20 chippers to select farmers from the district to help them monetize cotton stalk post-harvest. The biomass is mostly burned once the cotton bolls are picked. This results in not just environmental pollution but also degrading of soil nutrients making the land infertile over a period of time.
Circot estimates that each machine is capable of earning ₹5lakh per post-harvest season from Jan to March.
The chippers, five owned by Circot and 15 sponsored by the industry, were handed over to the farmers at the institute’s Ginning Training Centre on Amravati Road on Wednesday.
SK Shukla, director, ICAR-Circot, said the crushed stalk is required by factories to make briquettes and pellets. “The biofuel is now in high demand because of new government policy to use 10% briquettes and pellets in thermal power plants. Right now, farmers incur a cost on clearing their field but once they adopt the technology they turn producer’s of crushed cotton stalk and they will earn at least Rs500 per tonne profit,” he said.
Cotton advisor GH Wairale, Prakash Rao, CEO, Green Farms, Yogesh Bangde, Shivam Biofuels LLP, Arvind Uprikar, deputy director of agriculture, K Pandiyan, Sr scientist, Ginning Training Centre, ICAR-CIRCOT, Nagpur and others were present.
Wairale said the ash content of cotton stalk is just less than 5% while coal leaves more than 30%. “The farmers will benefit immensely from this initiative. We will create awareness and ensure they increase their earning using the best from waste formula,” he said.
Rao and Bangde said the farmers would be compensated for the stalk on the same day and there would be no issues of payment. “Entire stalk will be procured on the spot,” they said.
Shukla said stalks is abundantly available in the fields while chippers were not easily available. Each chipper cost around ₹2.5lakh.
The Circot director said each village has at least 1,000 acre land under cotton cultivation in Vidarbha. “Each acre yields 1 tonne of stalk. Every day 10 tonne of stalk can been chipped. Farmers will get 100 days of work. Input cost is around ₹3,000 per tonne while they would be left with ₹500. This comes to ₹5lakh per season for whole village,” Shukla said.
Roopchand Shende, a farmer from Saoner, agreed that they had no option but to burn the stalk but was wary of labour cost in collection of stalk. “Currently, labour cost is ₹1,000 for two days of uprooting the stalk and burning it. If was start collection, cost will shoot up to ₹2,000 per day. We need to first have a trial run before the initiative is implemented across the village,” he said.
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