If the experts from Ludhiana’s Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University are to be believed, Punjab farmers can sell paddy straw and earn dollars. The vet varsity has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Neway Renewable Energy (Bathinda), a subsidiary of Qatar-based Alkindi Group to convert paddy straw into enriched fodder pellets, which will be sold in the Gulf countries.
The move is seen as a major step towards reducing air pollution caused by burning straw after paddy harvesting in November and subsequent months.
In a press briefing, university vice-chancellor AS Nanda said the state produces around 20 million tonnes of paddy straw, of which only 2 million tonnes are utilised either by feeding animals or are used in fields.
“Paddy straw worth Rs 400 crore is burnt in Punjab every year. This causes air and soil pollution besides damaging the natural biodiversity. As per the MoU, the company plans to process 10 million tonnes of paddy straw into enriched fodder pellets using innovative technology under the guidance of GADVASU. The university experts will analyse the fodder pellets for certain quality control parameters such as digestibility, nutritional value, shelf life and quality etc,” the V-C said. He added they will also provide technical support to the firm which has donated Rs 5 lakh to the university to support this project and will provide more funds.
The university has involved a Khanna firm which will provide machinery to the Qatar firm that has already signed an MoU with the Punjab government for processing paddy straw into carbon-enriched fuel and is in the process of setting up the required infrastructure. ‘Green fodder, a rare commodity in Middle East’
The V-C said the dairy business is progressing in Gulf Cooperative Council Countries (GCC), an alliance of six Middle Eastern countries, but there is a lack of facilities for feed and fodder production. So, there is a huge scope of export of enriched fodder pellets to Qatar and other Middle East countries.
Explaining the university’s role in the project, Manju Wadhwa, head of the animal and nutrition department said they will carry out research studies to develop, standardise, evaluate and monitor the quality of fodder pellets. “We will monitor its effects on animals and ensure that there are no side-effects and that no residue is left in milk or meat of the animals. After the successful research, the sample of fodder pellets will be given to the company which will start its production,” said Wadhwa, who is also the principal investigator of the project.