Government seeks to end crop burning

THE AGRICULTURE Ministry is drawing up a proposal to end the polluting and dangerous practice of burning cereal crop stubble.

But Ministry representative Nicos Georgiades, the head of the government Environment Service, told deputies of the House Environment Committee yesterday that their plans for an immediate ban on the widespread practice were unrealistic.

The committee was discussing a relevant proposal by Diko deputy Marios Matsakis.

“The ministry agrees that burning is a big problem in the countryside, but we believe that, at this stage, society and farmers are not ready to accept the bill as tabled,” Georgiades stated.

He said the committee’s proposal that farmers use rotovating machines rather than fire to get rid of crop stubble was not feasible for small fields.

Akel deputy Christos Mavrokordatos, while agreeing with the general consensus that crop burning had to stop, noted that using a rotovator would involve a considerable additional cost for farmers.

Georgiades said this additional cost might make the farming of smaller fields uneconomic.

Committee chairman Demetris Iliades acknowledged the reservations expressed but was keen to ensure that a relevant bill went before the House plenum before the summer break.

Georgiades promised the ministry would have a relevant proposal ready by mid-June, in plenty of time for the plenum to consider it.

Crop stubble burning creates serious smoke pollution – including substances linked to the thinning of the earth’s ozone layer – and also poses a serious fire hazard.