Cities of India are among the most polluted cities in the world. Ubiquitous smog lowers the living standards of the population. Authorities have persuaded farmers to try a unique fungi spray instead of burning rice remains.
The Most Polluted Cities of India
India is home to 21 of the world’s 30 cities with the worst air pollution levels, with Delhi being the top 1 in the top 10, according to the World Air Quality Report of 2021. Smog is lining cities to such an extent that schools close occasionally. Residents of Indian cities are at risk for respiratory diseases even if they wear masks.
The most critical contributors responsible for toxic air are industrial and exhaust emissions from vehicles. However, two months a year, in October and November, farming activity intensifies air pollution. Specifically, these are farmland fires, where farmers burn leftovers after the rice harvest and need to prepare the land for grain in a short time.
Twenty-three million tons of paddy waste are burned a year in northern India. Officials say that land burning causes about 10% of the air pollution, up to 42% in Delhi. The authorities recorded 2-3 times higher limits during the October and November burnings than the national air quality limits.
Fungi Spray Decomposer
The solution could be a unique fungus spray Pusa Decomposer, developed by experts from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Delhi. The new organic microbial spray consists of seven different types of fungi naturally present in the soil. Laboratory tests have shown that these fungi decompose crop residues quickly after harvest, turning them into nutritious compost for the next growing season, such as grain, within three weeks.
The Pusa Decomposer is now available in powder form; 600 g of the product is enough to spray on about a hectare of soil. “Decomposed stubble enriches the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers by up to 25%,” says Ashok Kumar Singh, Indian Agricultural Research Institute director.
Authorities have licensed the technology to 12 Indian companies while providing free spray machines to farmers. Indian Agricultural Research Institute hope that with the farmers’ support, they will be able to reduce the level of air pollution.
Featured photo by Chris LeBoutillier on Unsplash