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Sugarcane Growers in Central Thailand Defy Burning Ban

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Sugarcane growers in this central Thailand have been seen burning their fields at night despite authorities’ ban on the practice to curb haze.

Farmers say burning the fields before harvest saves money and time. Laborers prefer collecting burnt sugarcane to fresh ones full of leaves.

In the burning process, the field is set fire to and the leaves are burned off of the stalks. About 80% of the “trash,” including straw, the tops, and green and dry leaves, are burned off. These components constitute about 25% of the entire sugar cane stalk.

While removal of leaves may also be carried out by field workers, field burning costs much less money.  Its also makes the cane easier to harvest. The practice burns scorpions, snakes, and bees which would otherwise be a danger to the laborers harvesting “green,” or un-burned, cane.

The also burning kills microorganisms and burns the trash, both of which keep the soil rich when left in the fields. .

Farmers in Nakhon Sawan say by burning vast plantations across the province they avoid the long wait time for harvesting machines that are in short supply.

The practice of burning the sugarcane fields at night is to reduce the likelihood of intervention by authorities.

In place of burning the sugarcane, the leaves could be removed and burned to create steam for electricity generation or be converted into fuel themselves

The field burning ban was issued late last year in a bid to control hazardous fine dust. As of Monday, the Pollution Control Department reported that the quantity of particulate matter 2.5 micrometres and less in diameter amounted to 65 microgrammes per cubic metre of air in Nakhon Sawan over the past 24 hours. The safe limit is at 50mcg.

Source: Bangkok Post

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