‘Black cloud’ may worsen this year due to increased rice cultivation

The phenomenon commonly known as the "black cloud" – pollution generated from the burning of rice straw – will once again be darkening the skies in late October and may worsen this year, the Environment Affairs Ministry has warned.

Mohamed Sayyed Khalil, the minister’s adviser for planning African and Arab affairs, said farmers have grown more rice over the past three months tha  the amount approved by the Water Resources and Irrigation Ministry. He said the security failure following the revolution has contributed to the trend and the increased cultivation will create more rice chaff.

The Environment Ministry increased efforts last year to stop farmers from burning the rice byproduct during the fall harvest, Khalil told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“Cultivated amounts of rice [this year] reached 1.8 million tons, which will yield between 3.6 to 4 million tons of straw across the governorates,” he said, adding that many farmers still burn the straw rather than sending it to ministry-affiliated recycling centers.

Khalil also said equipment was stolen from recycling centers during the revolution and some governorates grew rice despite being ordered not to do so in previous years, which he also attributed to reduced security. Qalyubiya Governorate farmers defied the ban and cultivated 28,000 feddans of rice this year, he said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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