Thai Sugar Body Seeks to Sweeten Environment and Health
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Thai Sugar Body Seeks to Sweeten Environment and Health

TSSCT, in collaboration with the Cane and Sugar Board, public and private organisations, implements farmer training programs across the country in support of the measures to restrict paraquat usage for sustainability of the sugarcane industry

Mr. Kitti Choonhawong, President of the Thailand Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (TSSCT), made an announcement describing the restricted use measures of paraquat substance based on the restriction placed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) on the use of these chemicals.

“Every farmer should register for the training and examination on the proper and safe uses of paraquat substance according to the Department of Agriculture restricted use measures. Hence, only certified farmers will be allowed to purchase and use these herbicides starting 20th October 2019, around 350,000 farmers had passed the examination”

The association has been collaborating with the Cane and Sugar Board (CSB) and Syngenta Crop Protection Co., Ltd. in organising the training, “Using Paraquat according to the Restricted Use Measures,” for every sugarcane factory and related organizations across the country.”

“The goal of the training is to assist all farmers to comply with the new restricted use measures in order to reduce the impact of these measures on the sugarcane industry. The farmers who fail the certification will be unable to procure and use the chemicals, thus affecting sugarcane cultivation and yield as well as reducing its quantity and quality. Overall, the measure might affect the entire sugarcane industry. Additionally, the training will help educate the farmers on self-protection and reduce environmental impact.

“Farmers who don’t pass the tests will not be authorised to purchase or use the herbicides, thus this will affect their cultivation and production in terms of quantity and quality, as well as the sugarcane and all related industries.”  

“This project has gained much attention from sugarcane factories and farmers across the country. Now, over 30 from all 57 factories nationwide have participated because both the factories and farmers use the herbicides.  One of the key areas that are accelerating the training and safe practices is Nong Bua Lam Phu Province, where 5,000 participants (sugarcane farmers and factory representatives) had taken part in this project. For this to happen, the Cane and Sugar Promotion Centre Region 4, Isan, has organised several speakers to educate farmers in this area.”

Mr. Thaechit Veerachartyanukul, sugarcane farmer and Vice President of the North-Isan Sugarcane Planters Association Erawan Branch stated: “Farmers still see the necessity on using herbicides because machines cannot eliminate all pests. They use paraquat only once or twice a year, at the beginning of sugarcane growing season, and post-harvest to kill grass and to prepare the soil for the next crop.”

Mr. Boonthin Jitphol, sugarcane farmer from Nong Bua Lam Phu Province, added that paraquat is necessary for sugarcane cultivation and cannot be substituted with other substances. Without it, farmers will need to change their cultivation and hire human workers, increasing their cost

“By participating in the project, farmers will be knowledgeable to properly use herbicides as well as share their knowledge to other farmers.”

The sugarcane and sugar industry is one of the Thailand’s main strategic processed agricultural industries and ranked as the third most important export after rubber and rice. There are more than 11 million rai of sugarcane cultivation area in Thailand with over 430,000 households (around 1 million) of sugarcane farmers working on it, generating an income around 300,000 million baht per year. Moreover, industry by-products are ethanol, biomass fuel, paper, fertilizer, food and cosmetics. Although the sugarcane and sugar industry has played an important role in the economy, presently, it has encountered several problems such as the production system, yield fluctuation due to climate change, environmental problem from residue burning, labor shortages, and global competition, which together affects the sugarcane supply chain.

Therefore, a cooperative effort involving all sectors – producers, farmers, industries, public and private units – is necessary for developing a sustainable solution for the sugarcane and sugar industry.

On 18 September 2019, the association signed an MOU on academic cooperation with five agriculture allies under the “Social, Health, Environment, and Economic Partnership for Sustainable Sugarcane” (SHEEP for Sustainable Sugarcane) project. The academic initiative aims to develop a management system for both farms and factories, which will benefit the sugarcane and sugar industry, as well as promote five key areas, namely, S-Social, H-Health, E-Environment, E-Economic and P-Partnership to international standards.

“Each organization has agreed on their role according to their expertise.”

“As a coordinating centre, TSSCT collaborates with different researchers and supports research and experiment to enhance sugarcane and sugar production standards. CSB is responsible for promoting research and driving innovation to increase product value and amending the regulations to be compatible.

“The Agriculture Safety Association is responsible for providing speakers, generating knowledge, developing skills for farmers and the next generation of farmers, and establishing the sugarcane schools by farmers for farmers. The Thai Sugar Millers Corporation Limited facilitates the collaboration between sugar and sugarcane factory associations across the nation in order to comply with the guideline and share knowledge with their associates. Syngenta Crop Protection Co., Ltd. supports the knowledge, innovation, technology, yield increase, and cost reduction, thereby creating a safe environment, all leading to the sustainable development of the Thai sugarcane and sugar industry” concluded Mr. Kitti.

Thailand Society of Sugar Cane Technologists

Agro-Industry Building 3, 4 Floor, Room 3410

Faculty of Agro-industry, Kasetsart University

50 Ngamwongwan Road, Ladyao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900

Tel 0-2562-5000 Ext 5343

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