Phetchabun locals are facing “Black Snow”, this occurs in sugar cane harvesting season. The black snow is not actual snow but is the nickname given to the burnt sugar cane that floats through the sky and ends up all over the Phetchabun province.
The local sugar cane farmers choose to burn the sugar cane leaves called pre-harvest burning, the leaves are burned before the sugar cane is cut down. This causes major pollution problems for the surrounding area including releasing hazardous pollutants into the air. The black snow floats through the sky and falls onto the roads, markets, and personal residences.
The itchiness caused when the black snow comes in contact with your skin might be the worst annoyance. As clothes cannot be dried out in the open, the black snow will give anyone who wears the clothes skin rashes and extreme itchiness.
Food sellers from the Bueng Sam Pan district in Phetchabun are having trouble selling food as the black snow falls into cooked food that is displayed, this contaminates the food making it not safe for consumption. The food sellers have set up tents that cover the top of there food stalls in hope to protect the food.
The act of burning the sugar cane is illegal in Thailand, the main reasons being it pollutes the environment and creates great annoyance to those residing near the area, especially when tons of sugar cane leaves are being burned all in the same season. The villagers have to live with the polluted air and the annoyance of black snow everywhere, areas within 3 kilometers of where the sugarcane leaves are burned gets affected the hardest.
Burning leaves is an easy way out of getting rid of the sugar cane leaves before harvesting. Farmers don’t have to spend time cutting off the leaves or wages for workers to cut off the leaves, but the villagers have to suffer from such a shortcut. 9 out of 10 sugar cane farmers choose pre-harvest burning instead of cutting the leaves.
When asked why the sugar cane leaves are burned, many sugarcane farm owners state that someone else came in and burned the leaves in their farm, they didn’t do it.
FB Caption: The black snow causes skin rashes and extreme itchiness if it comes in contact with the skin.