Paddy stubble is either left in the fields to decompose or burnt after harvesting. Burning of paddy stubble has made news due to the pollution it causes in north India, forcing the Supreme Court to take note of the environmental hazards caused by the burning of the stubble.
However, a lady scientist in Chhattisgarh has found a revolutionary use for the product. Her experiment is in the final stages.
Chhattisgarh, the rice bowl of the nation, has so far been dealing with paddy stubble like the farmers in other parts. A part of it is left for the cattle to graze. Some farmers continue to burn the rest which can’t be uprooted.
Sumita Panjwani of Dhamtari district in Chhattisgarh has managed to put it to use for making sanitary napkins which are completely biodegradable after use.
The unique experiment has gone on for three years and the product has been tested to meet the standards set by the health authorities and the government.
At present, the Indira Gandhi Agricultural University in Raipur is helping Panjawani, a social worker and nutritionist, give final shape to the napkins that will not only offer cheaper personal hygiene to women, but will also bring down pollution and increase farmers’ income through the use of cheaper organic manure.
Panjwani said the idea struck her when she often visited rural areas for social service. An MSc in food and nutrition processes, Panjwani, who earlier worked as a junior scientist in Jawaharlal Agricultural University in Jabalpur, said that there are large volumes of cellulose paddy straw which can be extracted with the help of chemicals.
It is like cotton in a way, which gets decomposed after use and gets mixed in the soil like manure. The sanitary napkins available in the market are still not affordable to all economic classes. But the ones she and her associates are developing could cost up to Rs 2 or 3.
All branded napkins contain synthetic strands, which are not biodegradable and damages the environment. Napkin made from paddy straw would prove to be better on these counts.
Panjwani said the pads will soon be available for commercial production.