A farmer drives a tractor through smoke from burning rice straw in preparation for the next harvest in Cairo - Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
CAIRO – 7 May 2018: Burning rice straw in Egypt is considered the main cause of what is known as "the black cloud". The Ministry of Environment, therefore, has taken early precautions this year to face the black cloud season from August 15 to November 15.
Chief Executive Officer of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) Mohamed Shehab Abdel Wahab told Egypt Today that the ministry has set several new mechanisms to deal with the black cloud during the upcoming season, as several rice straw grinding machines have been provided to farmers to be used as natural fertilizers and animal fodder.
In this regard, he remarked that these machines could reach remote places that are difficult for tractors and traditional machines to reach.
Additionally, he mentioned that the Ministry of Environment has set a plan to use satellites and early warning systems to detect areas where straw is burned.
In the same context, the ministry has offered farmers LE 50 ($2.82) for every ton of rice straw to encourage them to collect and hand over the straw to the government instead of burning it.
Meanwhile, a sum of 11,000 tons of rice straw was collected and transferred into organic fertilizers and fodders in Beheira and Dakahlia governorates.
Legal action is being taken by the Ministry of Environment against farmers who continue to burn rice straw.
Sixteen awareness seminars have been given to citizens and farmers in Egypt’s villages on measures to address the sources of air pollution and to recycle and benefit from rice straw.
The Egyptian government has adopted measures to encourage gathering rice straw, instead of burning it, to put into effect an agro-waste system introduced by the ministry.
The new system, which involves newly invented machines, has been implemented in Sharqiya and is planned to be carried out in Beheira.
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