Bengaluru/Karnal: With air pollution across north India a major problem in the harvesting season when fields are set on fire, ideas that could help clean things up are always welcome. The 'Charvester' is one such innovation. This idea for a smoke-free way to deal with the straw has won an award for the Charvester UChicago Urban Labs competition, which aims to deal with the twin challenges of pollution and agrarian productivity.
In many places in Punjab and Haryana, fields are set on fire - and this is a major source of pollution for nearby cities like Delhi. But there are some places where villagers avoid this - like Beernarayana in Haryana's Karnal which calls itself a 'Climate Smart Village'.
The sarpanch of the village told NDTV, "In our village nobody is burning the crop, even if that means an additional expenditure."
In September this year, members of the Climate Foundation visited Beernarayana. Hitesh, from the foundation said, "We visited villages to understand the complete process; how crop is sowed; how it is harvested."
The Charvester is an idea being developed by the Climate Foundation and Tide Technologies Pvt Ltd in faraway Dodaballapur taluk in Karnataka. The aim is to help the farmers deal with the paddy straw - the type of paddy grown in these villages is not edible for livestock and has been considered waste and burnt. With the Charvester, the straw would be gathered and fed into this machine.
Ajay Chandran, who oversees the working of the actual charvester prototype told NDTV, "The paddy is fed into one end of the machine. It is burnt in a smoke free manner inside and the result is biochar."
The biochar has benefits of its own and can be sold by farmers as it actually improves the quality of the soil.
Sampath Kumar, who has worked on developing the Charvester, said, "Biochar has certain characteristics through which it retains moisture, nitrogen and other components and improves the soil texture." Farmers could actually sell biochar and earn some extra income.
And back in Beernarayana, farmers believe that the Charvester will not only enable them to fertilise their soil naturally but also provide a sustainable source of livelihood with maximum utilisation of biomass.