Farmers burn waste crops adding to the chronic air pollution in Thailand

Thai farmers burned waste crops adding to the chronic air pollution in Thailand.

Some locals were found to have been secretly setting fire to rice stubbles in the middle of a field in Phimai district, Nakhon Ratchasima province on January 29. Similar practices were done in other provinces to prepare the land for planting season.

Massive clouds of smoke were seen floating across the sky producing dust all over the village, upsetting locals with respiratory disease and road users with lower visibility.

Despite the district’s effort to curb the PM 2.5 dust problems through strict prosecution measures, some local farmers continued to burn, disregarding government policies and laws.

Nakhon Ratchasima province governor Wichian Chantranothai said: ‘We have ordered district chiefs to notify the village headman to ask for the cooperation of farmers.

‘They should refrain from burning rice stubble and sugarcane. Farmers who are found guilty will be prosecuted.’

Scientists believe the country’s air pollution is caused by a combination of still atmospheric conditions, agricultural burning and soaring numbers of cars and construction projects.

Researchers found that smog – caused by high levels of harmful PM 2.5 particles in the air – is at its worst in the country when farmers burn waste crops to cheaply clear their land between late October and April.

The seasonal lack of wind and rain, combined with a winter low-pressure system in which cold air is trapped closer to the ground by warm air above – prevent the pollution from being dispersed naturally.  

The Thai government has been criticised for failing to tackle the country’s air pollution crisis, which worsened in 2019 leading to large numbers of people suffering from respiratory problems.