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The burning of crop residue generates severe air pollution in the Indo-Gangetic plain area of South Asia. Crop residue burning affects people's health, degrades soil health that impacts agricultural production and food security and emits greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Given its nature, it has a cross-border implications as the flow of air determines the outreach of air pollution. Crop straw yields have continued to grow,  sustaining a high level with increased agricultural production in South Asia. The lack of suitable agricultural technology and machinery to sustainably utilize the straw or promote its recycled usage has led to straw burning, causing a high level of air pollution, including through transboundary sources.

This paper presents the status of crop straw management for major crops in Pakistan, namely wheat, rice, maize, sugarcane and cotton.  For each of these crops, data is provided on the area and production levels, harvesting methods and machinery used for the management of straw that is produced, uses of straw and issues related to straw burning. Different types of agricultural machinery and equipment that have been developed and used for planting and harvesting of crops as well as for the management of the straw in Pakistan are documented.  The potential for the use of biomass for the generation of electricity is also briefly examined.  The paper highlights major issues that affect the adoption of suitable technologies for the management of crop residues. Recommendations are made on actions that can be taken at the federal, provincial and international levels for the sustainable management of crop residue in Pakistan. 

JEL Codes(s): O13, Q16, Q53, Q55

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Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia +91 11 3097 3700 [email protected]