JAN 2021  

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues globally, many countries have begun or granted approval for vaccinating their people against the virus. When a safe and effective vaccine is found, it will be important to facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries. People most at risk should be prioritized. While work towards rolling out a safe and effective vaccine fairly is presently underway, we must continue the vital public health actions to subdue transmission and reduce mortality.

In the recent past, the Bay of Bengal has witnessed frequent cyclones. Very severe cyclonic storm Nivar was a tropical cyclone which brought severe impacts to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in late November 2020. This month’s cover story ‘Farmers Shift to Climate-resilient Crop’ highlights that over the years, with rising cyclones in Tamil Nadu, farmers  have shifted to a ‘climate-resilient’ crop called vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides), which was found to be a suitable alternative to cashew and casuarina, which were often getting toppled by cyclone. Farmers found this not just climate-resilient, but also profitable from an income perspective. Research has found the special attributes of vetiver grass that include its longer life, high resistance to extreme climatic variation, finely structured root system, cost effectiveness, and environment friendliness. Under the ‘Aroma Mission’ such climate-resilient crops have been promoted and it will be important to develop desired technology, product and services and promote agri-entrepreneurship to boost cultivation of these crops.

This month’s special report ‘Paddy Straw: A Win-Win Fuel’ discusses the problem of the burning of paddy straw that has been identified as one of the major causes of pollution in India. Significantly, burning paddy straw in power plant boilers, industrial boilers and not fields, is a viable option because, for the past few years, various institutions and departments have been encouraging the use of paddy straw for the generation of electricity, and more recently, for the production of ethanol, CBG and bio-char . Establishment of bio-refineries for the utilization of paddy straw has been seen as another viable option. Punjab has projects in various stages of planning for the utilization of 1.5 million tonnes of paddy straw annually. But other than setting up biomass-based power plants, more concrete efforts need to be made in other areas. Paddy straw could be an alternate to fossil fuels and reduce the country’s dependence on imports.

With these articles and many other articles of current interest, we hope that you  enjoy reading this issue of TerraGreen. We do look forward to receiving your feedback  and letters.