Industry Ministry plans end to sugarcane burning in three years
The Ministry of Industry will propose to the Cabinet a plan to end within three years sugarcane farmers’ widespread practice of cane burning before harvesting which is largely blamed for smog problem in many areas.
The plan will be incorporated into a ministerial regulation to be enforceable during the 2019-20 sugarcane crop year and seeks to force sugar mills to accept only 30% of burned sugarcane for milling, with a further reduction to 20% for the 2020-21 crop year and to no more than five percent for the third crop year.
Thai sugarcane farmers prefer burning sugarcane to make it easier to cut and to save labour costs. However, the burned sugarcane is of lower quality and has reduced sweetness. Burning of sugarcane has also been blamed for creating smog in some provinces containing large sugarcane plantations, such as Khon Kaen.
In order to encourage farmers to switch to the use of machinery, which is more costly, the Industry Ministry will also propose the provision of cheap loans, amounting to six billion baht over a three-year period, for farmer cooperatives and community enterprises to procure cane-cutting machinery.
The ministry also aims to make Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Chaiyaphum, Loei and Uttradit provinces free from sugarcane burning this year.
Meanwhile, a huge dust filtering machine, which was assembled in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen by a voluntary research group, has been installed at the Tha Pae Gate in Chiang Mai province to ease the haze problem. The machine, named “Green Giant”, went into operation at noon today. It is capable of filtering PM2.5 dust particles from the air.
Mr. Patpong Phusingh of the volunteer group, said that the machine can filter air within a 2-3 kilometre radius.