Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore on Friday said it was important that farmers were given the option to adopt alternative practices to ensure proper disposal of paddy residue instead of resorting to stubble burning.Expressing concern over the environmental hazards caused by the practice, Mr. Badnore said stubble burning was not only damaging the health of people but was also causing loss of organic components in soil.“There is a need to promote horticulture, cultivation of fruits and mushrooms in a big way to break the usual paddy-wheat crop cycle in Punjab,” he said at a workshop here on stakeholders’ initiative to address crop residue burning in the State.Mr. Badnore called for formulating a comprehensive strategy, including generating mass awareness among farmers, and providing available technologies at affordable prices.“I appreciate the progressive approach of the Punjab farmers and their in-depth knowledge about the latest farming techniques. Incentives must be given to farmers who have already adopted other alternatives and are not burning straw,” he said.Suresh Kumar, Chief Principal Secretary to the Punjab Chief Minister, said the government will constitute a State-level advisory group to formulate some immediate action plan to check stubble burning in the State.“I urge experts to work towards reducing the silica content in straw and making it fit for animal consumption. States like Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, where there is a shortage of animal fodder, could be given the fodder at lower prices,” he added.