Paddy residue burning in Punjab: understanding farmers’ perspectives and rural air pollution

In the state of Punjab in India, burning residue from the annual rice paddy harvest is a practice that dates back decades. Crop waste burning emits particulate matter (both PM10 and PM2.5) and greenhouse gases (GHG), which aggravate the poor air quality in Punjab, Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). Many policies have been mandated in the past few years to address this challenge. Yet, alternative technologies and practices have not been adopted widely, and the practice of burning crop waste persists. This issue brief examines the impact of paddy residue burning on local air quality in Punjab, evaluates the economic feasibility of alternative solutions like the ‘Happy Seeder’, and tries to understand from farmers the barriers they face in adopting alternative methods of managing crop residue.

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