Thailand’s Ministry of Industry is seeking cooperation from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to tackle the problem of sugarcane burning, as many sugarcane farmers are defying the ban on burning, while millers continue to buy burnt cane.

According to the Office of the Sugarcane and Sugar Committee, burnt sugarcane now accounts for 23 million tonnes (31%) of the 75 million tonne total output, since the 2022-23 harvest began on December 1st.

The extensive burning of sugarcane also contributes to the increase of PM2.5 in the atmosphere in the cane-growing and other provinces, including Bangkok.

The banned practice has been reported in Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Kalasin, Phetchabun, Suphan Buri, Khon Kaen, Uthai Thani, Nakhon Sawan, Kanchanaburi, Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu, Lop Buri, Sa Kaeo, Chaiyaphum and Saraburi.

The Sugarcane and Sugar Committee has noted that sugarcane burning does not only pose a threat to human and environmental health, but may also affect the national economy, especially the recovering tourism industry, as the burning takes place during the tourism high season in Thailand.

Farmers prefer burning because it is cheaper and faster than hiring cutters to remove the excess leaves from the cane, even though the process may reduce the sugar content of the harvested crop. It is also cheaper than using mechanical harvesters, which are unaffordable by most farmers.

Cutters also prefer burnt sugarcanes, because their pay is based on output rather than hourly wages.

Sugarcane burning is a chronic problem which is unlikely to be resolved easily, due to resistance from most farmers and a lack of cooperation from millers.

4 caviale royal 2 300x300 1


Leave a Reply