Interviews

How to Tackle Stubble Burning Find CLAAS Innovative Methods from ANIL MENON

The problem of stubble burning has become a paramount issue due to its adverse impact on the environment. Knowing its gravity, the Indian Government, with the help of state governments mainly Punjab and Haryana, has been taking various steps to counter the practice of stubble burning. However, these steps are proving to be insufficient if we look at the magnanimity of the issue. Thus, apart from government, private sector also has to play a key role in solving the problem. Having its factory in Morinda, near Chandigarh, CLAAS is right there in the heart of action. Though CLAAS is a global player in the agricultural machinery sector, we think of India’s local needs. It is also the first multinational harvester manufacturing company to have complete manufacturing, designing, and development in India. 

“Government needs to support the creation of an ecosystem to the rescue of the farmers that not to be penalized for disposing of paddy straw. As per the production and availability of paddy straw, there is a need to set up biomass power plants in every district so that the demand can be generated locally,” says Mr. Anil Menon Head-Market Development, CLAAS- Agriculture Machinery Pvt Ltd., during his talks with Shri M C Dominic, Editor-in-Chief on stubble burning. Mr. Menon also talks in detail about their outreach programs, preparations for climate change threat, challenges in Indian markets, their future roadmap in the country along with many other related issues.  

Would you elaborate on CLAAS's role in solving the stubble burning problem that is a threat to the environment today? 

CLAAS is promoting the Straw Management System (SMS), which the state governments like Punjab, Haryana, MP, etc. are also trying to promote. In this system, SMS fitted at the rear of the combine harvester chops the straw in small pieces and then spreads the chopped matter on the ground. This chopped straw can be incorporated into the soil using plows, or the farmers can use happy seeders where without tillage, wheat can be sowed. CLAAS provides the straw choppers.  

CLAAS also suggests another solution. Instead of chopping straw, it can be easily baled by CLAAS balers. The main advantage of baled straw is storage of higher quantity of straw requires lesser space and can be transported easily. This baled straw can be used as fuel in biomass power projects or for the production of ethanol or biogas. It is heard that all the NTPC plants will have at least 10 percent of paddy straw as fuel rather than coal only. Even OMCs like IOC, HPCL, and BPCL are setting up ethanol refineries at multiple locations in India, which would use paddy straw and other bio-fuel for ethanol production.  

What is the role of the harvester in tackling the issue of stubble burning? Farmers purchase the harvester, which is costly, what are your thoughts on the same? 

Farmers do not purchase the harvester for his captive use, whether he’s big or small. Harvesters are owned by contractors. If a farmer has to use manual labour for harvesting his crop, it costs him around four times higher than harvesting through CLAAS machines. In a year, a harvester runs for harvesting about 1000 acres. Ninety-five percent of the harvesters in India are owned by contractors. Contractors buy harvesters and lend them to different farmers. And therefore, the contractor is our customer, and the farmer is the end-user.  

What challenges does CLAAS face in the Indian market? 

Fragmentation of landholdings is one big challenge in India. With the kind of machinery CLAAS offers, the issue is being addressed by contract farming. The other big problem which India faces is the retail finance availability. Farmers, unless with some influence, face difficulty in raising finance for the machinery.  The Indian farmers also purchase substandard machinery, especially in the new markets where they are less aware, ultimately causing a significant threat to other brands. CLAAS is manufacturing machines in India itself and has long term commitment to the government's ‘Make in India’ initiative. 

CLAAS is into the agriculture equipment, but what about the services provided by the company?  

CLAAS is globally known for its after-sales services. We have a network of about 70 dealers across India. All our dealers stock machines parts adequately. They have technicians, trained and supported by our service team. We conduct a quick online feedback survey where customers are interviewed after one month of sales. We also continue with our surveys after one year, which mainly talk about knowing the kind of support customers are getting from CLAAS.  

Would you like to inform us about CLAAS future endeavours towards the farm machinery? 

As a part of the new offerings from CLAAS, it is the maize harvesters and the maize header that is added to the list. A contractor can go into multiple crops by changing the new maize header. CLAAS is scaling up the availability of its forage harvesters like the tractor-mounted JAGUAR 25 and self-propelled JAGUAR 850 forage harvesters. “The concept of silage is slowly growing in India, and it is, therefore, a great opportunity for us to bring the advanced forage harvesting machinery up to farmer’s doorstep.  We are also going to introduce a range of large balers, both round and square, in India. In the years to come, we have lined up a gamut of NEXTGen agriculture equipment" says Mr Anil Menon - CLAAS. 

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