Reducing Crop Burning to Improve Health and the Environment

Energy Harvest Charitable Trust


This project is aimed at reducing crop burning and air pollution by: 1) Identifying a) when & where farm waste is being burned, b) what and how much is getting burned, 2) Intervening: by creating a marketplace for crop residue and connecting farmers, collectors and buyers of crop residue to provide better alternatives and reduce burning, and 3) Doing Policy advocacy: inform the government about areas where crop waste is getting burned and also, do advocacy for policy changes required for utilization of crop waste

Health Environment Energy and Environment Economic Development
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This project is completed

Background and Motivation

India produces 500-550 million tonnes of crop residue every year. In Punjab and Haryana, 35 millions tonnes of paddy straw is leftover after harvesting, most of which is burned. This residue burning causes serious air pollution that is responsible for public health emergencies in Delhi every winter. A recent study mentioned “On certain days, during peak fire season, air pollution in Delhi which is located downwind of the fire is about 20 times higher than the threshold for safe air as defined by WHO," which had caused Delhi to be the most polluted capital in the world.

In just the state of Punjab, ~20 million tonnes of paddy straw has to be managed in just about three weeks to enable sowing of the next crop.

Project Description

The primary questions involve identifying crop burning in the state of Punjab. The key questions we will answer are:

● Can we accurately identify when, where, and how much crop waste was burned?

● Can we identify what type of crop it was?

Our hypothesis is that we have access to good-enough quality and quantity of satellite data to accurately answer the questions above, and that we can then use that system to support downstream interventions and policy advocacy efforts. ​The initial validation will be done using already collected on the ground data which tells us what types of crops are being grown in which farms. Future validation phases will involve a verification process on the ground.

Intended Impact

This project has a direct impact on the economic well-being of the farmers as well as on the health of the residents being affected by the pollution. In the pilot phase of this project, we will focus on the state of Punjab (India) for identification of farm waste and farm fires then validating with on the ground information. In the next phases, the focus will be to scale to other regions in India.

Internal Stakeholders

Sukhmeet Singh, Robert Berry

Internal People Available During the Project

Sukhmeet Singh, Robert Berry

Start date: Feb. 2, 2022
End date: Oct. 6, 2022

Project tasks

Fire Detection 2
Biomass/Crop Detection 2
Crop Type Classification 2
QA: Review analysis and results 0
Project scoping 0 done_all