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PepsiCo India Extends Pilot Initiative in Punjab to Address Stubble Burning

PepsiCo India

PepsiCo India Extends Pilot Initiative in Punjab

PepsiCo India has expanded its Biochar Initiative, a pilot crop residue management solution, to the Punjab districts of Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana as a potential solution to the pressing issue of stubble burning in northern India. This initiative will continue to work with more farmers in Punjab to better manage harvest residue by using retort kilns to produce biochar fertilizer via a process known as pyrolysis.

Between September 15 and November 2, 2022, stubble burning in Punjab released 6.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases and particulate matter, according to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). Biochar production and use has the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions when compared to other forms of disposal, such as heaping, while also improving soil health.

The Biochar Initiative of PepsiCo India is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 2. (Zero Hunger). Through these efforts, the company hopes to increase crop yields per hectare for small and marginal farmers while also contributing to global efforts to mitigate climate change.

PepsiCo India

“Enhancing soil function and health using biochar can increase agricultural output and reduce expenses related to nutrient and environmental effects,” said Anukool Joshi, Director – Agro at PepsiCo India, of the initiative. In comparison to other crop residue management options, our preliminary data show that farmers benefit more from the use of biochar.

“Although the Biochar action plan is still in its pilot stage, we believe it is a potential solution to the negative effects of stubble burning on air and soil quality while decreasing emissions of greenhouse gases in the agricultural supply chain,” he continued. At PepsiCo India, we are dedicated to new proposition farm practices like biochar that can create a more adaptable future for both agriculture and agricultural communities”.

PepsiCo now works direct and indirect with over 27,000 farmers across 14 states in India, trying to source 100% of the potatoes for its Lay’s category in India from Indian farmers.

Mr. Naginder Singh, owner of the farm where PepsiCo India commissioned the first retort kiln, highlights the benefits he sees from biochar adoption: “PepsiCo India assisted us in setting up furnaces to produce biochar. We spread the biochar into the fields that are ready for cultivation after it has been prepared. All farmers should use biochar, in my opinion. Using it helps our soil and saves our environment from further pollution, while reducing the use of chemical fertilizers”.

PepsiCo seeks to build more healthy, viable, and inclusive food security by sourcing crops and ingredients in ways that reinstate the earth and enhance farming communities, as part of PepsiCo Positive (pep+), the company’s strategic, end-to-end business transformation.