Cotton is a major crop in Vidarbha region and approximately 2.2 lakh hectares of land in this region is under cotton. After harvesting, most of the leftover cotton stalks are burnt in the field which not only pollutes the environment but also affects the biological properties of the soil. This region has the potential for generation of about 5.5 lakh tonnes of cotton stalks from the cultivated area. Due to lack of awareness and adequate facilities, cotton stalks are not seen as a valued product. To create awareness among the farmers for post-harvest management of cotton stalk ICAR-CIRCOT conducted a stakeholders meet on “Post-harvest management of cotton stalks and Distribution of chipper under SCSP programme” on February 07, 2024. Dr. S.K. Shukla, Director, ICAR-CIRCOT, Mumbai, Sh. G.H. Wairale, Former GM, MSCCGMF Ltd., Mumbai, Shri Arvind Uprikar, Deputy Director of Agriculture and Nodal Officer, SMART Project, Dr. K. Pandiyan, Sr. Scientist and Officer In-charge, Sh. Prakash Rao, Green Farms, Nagpur and Sh. Yogesh Bangde, Shivam Biofuels LLP, Nagpur were graced the programme.
Dr. Pandiyan welcomed the gathering and briefed about the programme. Sh. Wairale mentioned that the ash content of cotton stalk is less than 5% which is significantly lower than that of coal (30%). He urged the farmers to get immense benefit from this initiative by creating wealth from waste. Sh. Prakash Rao and Sh. Yogesh Bangde said that all the materials will be procured by them and the farmers would get t heir price for cotton stalk on the same day on spot without any hitches.
During his address, Dr. Shukla said that the biofuel is now in high demand due to implementation of new government policy for supplementing coal with up to 10% of biomass pellets in thermal power plants. Most of the cotton farmers incur a labour cost for clearing their filed. If they sell their material to the industry for production of pellet/briquette, they would earn at least Rs. 500/tonne of material. Cotton stalks are abundantly available in the fields while the chippers are not available for chipping them. Each village has at least 1,000 acres of land under cotton cultivation and each acre yield 1 tonne of cotton stalk. The cotton stalks will be available in the field during February to May (approx. 100 days). Farmers will get about 100 days of work for supply of cotton stalk to industries. Each chipper would cost around Rs. 2.5 lakh. The process cost is around Rs. 2500-3000 while they get benefit up to Rs. 500/- for each tonne of material supplied. During the programme, 5 chippers owned by CIRCOT and 15 chippers sponsored by Green Farms, Nagpur were distributed to the farmers including SC farmers. This is an initiative to make the farmers as an entrepreneur.