Agriculture Policy

Paying Farmers Rs 2,500 an Acre will Help Control Field Fires, Researches Say

Straw bales in fields and fires behind. Photo by Vivian Fernandes.

This is a summary of an in the Indian Express.

Four researchers (see below) studied crop residue management in 171 villages of Punjab in 2019. They ran a randomised evaluation of a cash payment programme that rewarded farmers who did not burn their paddy stubble. The researchers paid Rs 800 per acre. Some farmers did not burn the stubble. But most did because Rs 800 did not cover the entire cost of managing the stubble. The farmers said they had to incur an additional expenditure of Rs 2,000 per acre for hiring machines. The farmers preferred to remove the stubble from the field rather than manage it within the field. The researchers say that the government should pay Rs 2,500 per acre. This is the amount the Haryana and Punjab governments have offered to pay their farmers in 2019. This will achieve a significant reduction in stubble burning. The resultant health benefits will more than pay for the expenditure.

(Kelsey Jack is associate professor of environmental and development economics, University of California Santa Barbara; Namrata Kala is assistant professor in applied economics, MIT Sloan School of Management; Rohini Pande is professor of economics and director of Economic Growth Center, Yale University; Seema Jayachandran is professor of economics, Northwestern University)

(Top photo of paddy straw bales and fires behind, by Vivian Fernandes)