Recently, ‘sugar cane burning’ has been a major problem of the sugar cane price drop in Thailand because the product gained after burning did not meet the quality required by many companies. Besides, the burning of sugar cane has much affected both environment and local people living in nearby areas. In this regard, the government of Thailand issued 3-phase measures to tackle the problem effectively by encouraging sugar cane farm owners to cut and send raw materials to factories. Doing so will improve sugar cane’s quality and price, as well as reduce sugar cane burning, thus combating dangerous air pollution at the same time.
Mrs. Warawan Chitarun, the Director-General of Office of Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB) revealed that, upon the meeting between the OCSB and representatives from National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, National Association of Sugarcane Planters, National Confederation of Sugarcane Planters, Institute of Northeastern Sugarcane Planters and 3 associations of Thai sugar cane factories, namely Thai Sugar Millers Corp. Ltd., Sugar Industry Trading Co. Ltd. and Thai Sugar and Bio-Energy Producers Association, a way to solve the sugar cane burning problem throughout the country had been proposed. It consists of 3 measures as follows:
1. The short-term measure, which encourages sugar cane factories to set up exact proportion of fresh sugar cane and the burnt one they receive daily. The factories should have no less than 60% of fresh sugar cane and no more than 40% of the burnt one. Sugar factories and members of cane planter associations are supposed to formulate a plan concerning the period to cut sugar cane and accepting it for extraction, as well as managing sugar cane harvesters of factories and planters for effective work;
2. The intermediary-term measure, which encourages immediate cane extraction by factories and promotes persuasive measures for planters who do fresh sugar cane cutting. Terms and announcements regarding money deduction of burnt sugar cane will be reviewed and revised so that they are suitable and sufficiently efficient to make the planters realize how important the fresh sugar cane cutting is. Also, a sugar cane burning-free zone will be determined in a province where sugar cane is planted, especially an area where local people live and work.
3. The long-term measure, which includes setting goals, mapping plans and measures together to reduce the amount of burnt sugar cane to 10% each year. Doing so, there will be no burning of sugar cane by 2022. Measures on land reform and management should be outlined to suit collaborative farming.
Mrs. Warawan also mentioned about the P.M. 2.5 particulates situation in Thailand, adding that burning of sugar cane might be a factor that caused the pollution although she stressed that it was not definitely a major cause as the pollution came from burning of diesel, some of which is not decomposed in the air but pollutes it. Nevertheless, to reduce burning of sugar cane, the OCSB kindly asked planters not to do and encourage them to combine their fame with others and use cane harvesters to work for them instead.
The proposal made by Mrs, Warawan is another option to solve problem on burning of sugar cane in Thailand while promoting more sugar cane cutting. Doing so will mobilize cane and sugar industries of the country because it promotes sustainable farming which is environmentally-friendly for other people.