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Converting stubble to rice-straw products to curb the stubble burning issue

By: Sehaj Jolly

Farmers all over the world for centuries have been growing rice/wheat. In the modern era, farmers all around the world are doing mechanized farming while the farmers of Punjab and Haryana are facing the problem of the management of rice stubble because they are unable to find labor to collect and store the crop waste. When Rice harvesting is done, the combine harvester leaves all the rice straws on the field.

The time available for growing wheat is very short and the machines made by the government to collect the stubble are not economically available for farmers. In the absence of assured returns, they only have a way of burning rice stubble. Despite such huge amounts of rice straw available, farmers in our country are not realizing the potential of this agro-waste in terms of useful agricultural end-product and as raw material for various agro-based industries. With increasing demand and competitive prices, farmers will have no dearth of options for managing the agro-waste in a profitable way.

 However, convincing them about the economic viability of the options could be a challenge. Farmers will end up burning rice straw only if they receive a lucrative incentive.

Start of my dream project

This all started from a very awkward moment of sitting in an interview in the first year of my degree and every senior was staring at me like anything as if I committed an illegal job. That was funny but my friends and family supported me to go for an interview. To be honest, I am not so much of a technical person, I have very little knowledge but thankfully this knowledge is increasing day by day, just saying! I sat in an interview, cleared it. My topic was agriculture. I was wondering, what would I do in this field? I was here to learn codes and all that stuff but agriculture? This is not my type!

Very first day I had a discussion with my team and that changed everything. What is agriculture? Who are the farmers? How are they living? I am a public speaker by profession but the very first interview I took in karhali on behalf of Eduwaive was on a different level and way too good. That interview changed the lifestyle of 15 people!

That was the start of my own project. These things triggered my mind like something and I got a topic to research for and that was “STUBBLE”

I was so into the topic that I started writing poems for the farmers, agriculture, though I was an old poet, these poems made my mind stronger and stronger for this topic. I got support from my 3 seniors, working as an intern in Eduwaive with me and I don’t think I could ever get that much support and knowledge from anyone. On 9 july 2019, me and my senior friend named this project “STUB-ECO”.

That day I had 5 contacts for my project and many were still thinking about some or other loopholes in this, but the support and confidence of myself and those 5 contacts made this project into a startup.

One of the major goals was to reduce the air pollution caused by stubble burning. Farmers are every year blamed for the rise in air pollution in Delhi and NCR that is obviously wrong.

Converting stubble into rice-straw products

Other goals included proper management of stubble, profit to both the farmers as well as the industries with their field waste, reduction in wood cutting and depending more on stubble in place of wood for either making paper or furniture.

We started with very basic and home technologies like grinder, different plates for die and literally the small scissors to make the pulp.

The problem was there and the solution too, but how to implement it? We had no clue. Nobody was in this field. We took help from an IIT professor and made our first process with the use of some bio-chemicals, but our motive is to make it fully eco-friendly.

With a team of 3 persons, we started doing and experimenting with the first process we made. We failed at first. “I believe it was not a failed process, but one process with which we can not establish the project.”

We researched more and more, made new networks, and asked for chemicals, tried to get help from many people but ultimately after every conversation I personally thought, I was self-sabotaging myself. 

So, I stopped asking for help and worked harder for one perfect prototype. On 24 November 2019, after doing half of the execution I gotta call from my friend (The other stub-eco engineer).

And here we had this:

This was our first ever prototype. The difference in this process was the chemicals were home-made, mixing different home ingredients for the very initial stage like baking powder, soda, vinegar, and many others to make a proper and strong bio-chemical.

The other execution was home-made paper made from waste paper and rice-straw pulp. Next was a factory-made stubble bag. All this was made from the bio-chemicals and home-made technology except the stubble bag.

Results:

  • The rice-straw plate was decomposed in 15-17 days.
  • The plate used absorbed the water.
  • The rice-straw paper was thicker than the usual paper.

Outcomes:

  • The plate shown to farmers was the reason for their happiness.they agreed to work with us and support us.
  • The farmers gave us the supply of rice straw free for the very first time.
  • The first supply of rice-straw was from 6 Acre land.

We got a call from our head to attend the CSIR workshop in Chandigarh. We went there, attended it, and represented this project. Guess what? We won the “BEST INNOVATORS” award.

Our team was doing wonders, reaching the other level every other week not only in executions but our team focuses on awaring people too.

We write, record, and post poems, stories, interviews on farmers so that the government opens their eyes and sees how needy are the farmers and how curious are youngsters to help them.

Sehaj Jolly

Sehaj Jolly

Electronics and computer engineering student ,founder of stub-eco, public speaker

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