By Vritika Mathur
The government has launched the Gobar Dhan scheme to convert cattle dung into biogas and bio-fertilisers. This was started with an aim to benefit farmers and help villages sustain hygienic living conditions.
What is the Gobar Dhan Yojana?
In an effort to make villages open-defecation-free and improve the lives of villagers, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the launch of the Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (Gobar Dhan) scheme. It will promote compost based on cattle dung and farm compost for agriculture. As per this new initiative, the Central and Union government will work in coordination to help villagers sustain better and hygienic living conditions in their villages. Apart from this, the government will also ensure that the residue is used up and processed further to be converted into more usable forms of energy like bio-CNG and biogas that can be used by the villagers as a clean fuel.
The Finance Minister also announced that 187 projects have been sanctioned under the Namami Gange Programme for infrastructure development, reverse surface cleaning, rural sanitation and other interventions at a cost of Rs 16, 713 crores. Around 47 projects have been completed and all remaining projects are at various stages of execution. All 4,465 Ganga Grams villages on the banks of the river have been declared open-defecation-free. According to Nilaya Varma, Partner and Head, Government and Healthcare of KPMG in India, “(The scheme) will give a major boost to the Swachh Bharat Mission and generate community-level employment.”
How does it work?
Chemical fertilisers, when used by themselves, pollute surface water with nitrogen runoff because only 20-50% of the nitrogen in urea is absorbed by plants. The rest runs off into streams and lakes. The addition of compost or organic manure reduces nitrogen wastage, as its humus absorbs the nitrogen and acts like a slow release sponge. Compost is a well valued amongst the farmers. It consists of decomposed organic matter that enhances the soil with nutrients and microbes. Typically, it includes the recycled materials including decayed vegetables, fruit, grass clippings and plant foliage.
According to the Economic Survey of India 2015-16, the Indian government spends close to 1% of the country’s gross domestic product on fertiliser subsidies every year and only 35% of this subsidy reaches the farmers. This highlights the dire situation in which the farmers are left and the state of our agricultural sector. For years, it has been an open secret that India’s fertiliser subsidies are getting swiped. While the system is laid out well on paper, it does not work on the ground. Almost half of the annual subsidy goes to waste. Moreover, the overuse of cheap fertilisers undermines farm productivity in many parts of the country.
Potential of the scheme
The farmer problem in India is deadly and one that the country is well aware of. A multitude of factors has contributed to the increase in the rate of their suicides. This includes lack of proper irrigation facilities, storage facilities, farm labour and so on. Adding to this is the issue of poor quality of seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. For most farmers, chemical fertilisers are out of bounds due to their high prices. While these farmers can rely on cow dung for manure, there is an added issue of availability as it is used as fuel as well. The impact of these issues is greater than most people know which leads to a disastrous space wherein there is the absence of proper aid.
The Gobar Dhan scheme aims to ensure that cattle dung is processed and converted into a valuable agro-based resource for the people. It will make sure that it is well managed and processed in manners such that farmers in their farmlands can further use residual solid waste as compost fertiliser. A provision of Rs 11 crore has been made to provide benefits of various projects under this scheme, said Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar while addressing villagers at a ‘Kisan Samman Samaroh’ in Nizampur village of Sonipat district. ‘Fasal Bima Yojana’ cheques were also distributed to all farmers at the event.
Need for such schemes
With agriculture plays a significant role in the socio-economic fabric of the country, its steadily declining economic contribution comes as a worry. There is, thus, an undeterred focus on improving farm productivity. The Gobar Dhan scheme is one of many agricultural focused announcements made in the budget this year. According to the official release, the Yojana would also help in doubling the income of farmers and next time, the MSP would be given with additional benefit of 50% over the cost of production.
“Everyone knows why the kisan is unhappy. The government knows it better than anyone else. The farmer has reached the brink of despair”, said Kakkaji, who heads the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh. It is essential that the farmers’ needs be heard. Farmers and agriculture need to be on top of the list of priorities of the government. More policies and schemes need to be devised to lift the sector from where it has fallen. Moreover, implementation has to be taken more seriously as execution is usually the starting point for irregularities.
Featured image source: Wikimedia Commons
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