Smog-Free Community to Save Environment and Mobilize Sustainable Agriculture

Following cooperation to develop economic areas of local people in Mae Sod, Tak Province, a big “Smog -free” community has been mobilized to promote sustainable agriculture and encourage sugar cane planters to cut their product rather than burn it. Doing so will add more value to sugar cane and make Thailand outstanding as a country of clean energy production.

The Deputy Governor of Tak Province Mr. Somchai Kitcharoenrungroj said that Tak’s public officials encouraged local people to plant sugar cane as it helped them improve life quality, their communities, society and economy of the Mae Sod which is considered Thailand’s special economic zone. The policy of the province urges cutting fresh sugar cane instead of burning it. The activity is recommended to be carried out by planters themselves with cooperation of local organizations, factories and communities apart from strict law enforcement. The policy was well complied by sugar cane planters and farm owners, resulting in extraction of over 98% fresh sugar cane.

Mae Sod District Chief Mr. Chaiyapruek Chienthanrak added that creating good attitude, understanding and setting goals between public officials and local people in Mae Sod were crucial for clean and safe communities. Despite many factories in the area, strong cooperation of the people contributes to clean and environmentally-friendly agricultural zones of Mae Sod.

Local community’s leaders and people in Mae Sod also agree with the initiative proposed by the public and private organizations. Mr. Nopporn Oobpri, a local community’s leader and sugar cane planter in Mae Kasa of Mae Sod, campaigned with public officials for cutting fresh sugar cane, as well. He also adapted new knowledge on sugar cane plantation for his 300-Rai sugar cane farm besides passing it on to his community’s members.

“Since I started the sugar cane farm 10 years ago, I have cut the cane without thinking of burning the farm at all. Formerly, I hired workers to do for me, but I have lately changed to a sugar cane harvester thanks to support of a factory following labor shortage. The harvester works faster. We got good weight of cut sugar cane. Soil surface is not damaged and maintains humidity. More importantly, our community members are happy because they live in good environment and work in a sustainable way. Many people may view that burning sugar cane farm to collect all products is faster and more cost-saving, but it is actually worse because it does not reduce capital for sugar cane plantation. After burning a farm, owners will have to pay more for soil nourishment. As a local community’s leader, I tried hard to create good understanding about the issue among sugar cane planters and farm owners,” said Mr. Nopporn.

Likewise, Mr. Somsong Herngmo, a sugar cane planter who has cut all sugar cane in his farm since 2007, added that he had never burned the farm and cutting sugar cane was a healthy solution for himself and others. The price of cut sugar cane is even better. Also, sugar cane leaves which are left on the soil after cutting will serve as natural fertilizer to maintain good quality of the soil. Doing so will reduce cost of soil nourishment and weed eradication. Many people think that fresh sugar cane is difficult to cut, but Mr. Somsong has a different view as he thinks that burned sugar cane is tough and dusty. More importantly, either cut or burned sugar cane requires similar labor costs. However, cut sugar cane yields higher price. As a result, he would like local planters to cut sugar cane rather than burn it as it is healthy, economical and value-for-money.

Even a sugar cane farm owner of the new generation like Mr. Natthaphong Phulperm uses a sugar cane harvester. “I have done sugar cane plantation for 8 years already. I never burned it and got fresh sugar cane with good weight. Also, it is because many factories helped me in terms of production, pest killing, harvesting and equipment. They gave me suggestion and tried to make my farm convenient for a harvester. This is cost-and-labor saving and I do not need to burn my farm to harvest sugar cane, so there is no pollution and I am proud to help protect the environment in the area,” reported Mr. Natthaphong.