Farmer Balwinder Singh Sidhu from Mansa village Gharangna has been conferred with the national award for managing the paddy stubble in an eco-friendly way and not burning it for the past 6 to 7 years. Balwinder Singh, a retired patwari, is among the ten farmers of Punjab who have been honored by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare at the NASC complex in New Delhi.About 1,500 farmers from Punjab, Haryana, UP and New Delhi participated in the conference. Parshotam Rupala, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Director General, ICAR, honoured 10 farmers of Punjab for their significant contribution in managing paddy straw. Unable to get the honour himself due to urgent matters, Balwinder Singh sent his son to receive the award.Owner of 23 acres of land, Balwinder has not been burning the stubble for the past 6 to 7 years. Instead he ploughs back the stubble into soil enriching it in terms of nutrition and spending lesser water and lesser pesticides to grow the crop. Also the paddy stubble helps in maintaining acidity and alkalinity of soil in area like Mansa whose underground water is not fit for irrigation due to higher salinity.
Besides this the stubble is rich in potash, phosphorus and other nutrients."I have sown CR 212 paddy variety which produces lot of stubble. Many farmers think that using Happy Seeder for direct sowing of paddy is not feasible for varieties with dense stubble. But its not the case. Within a month, entire stubble rots away in earth and the transplanted paddy shoots can be easily seen," he adds.Following Balwinder's advice, his first his brothers and then his neighbours stopped the practice of burning paddy stubble. Balwinder feels every progressive year has been rewarding with his soil becoming stronger and needing lesser chemicals. "This year, till now, we haven’t used any chemical as the crop is healthy. As soon as we stop putting fire, the natural defence mechanism and farmer friendly organisms revive in fields giving it best of quality," he says.Balwinder has been spreading the good deed forward by helping smaller farmers use his Happy Seeder. He has transplanted paddy nursery free of cost in fields of other smaller farmers. "Its all for the cause of my children, so that they get better environment to breathe in," he says.Apart for wheat and paddy cultivation, he is also into flower rearing. He has to his credit lining both sides of roads leading to his fields with flowering plants brought from Patiala, Ludhiana, Malerkotla and Kuala Lumpur.