Stop the Smoke 2021
Once again we are headed into smoky season in Northern Thailand, India, and China, as farmers harvest their crops and burn the crop waste in open fields.
Warm Heart’s Stop the Smoke campaign focuses on removing the source of the smoke before it becomes a problem.
Our solution has been to provide farmers a way to benefit from their crop waste by turning it into a profitable product, biochar.
The process of turning crop waste into biochar is smoke-free and produces a product that has a multitude of beneficial uses.
Mae Chaem – Corn Capitol of Northern Thailand
Corn is one of the biggest waste producers of all crops, only 20% of the plant is used, the rest is waste. The burning of this waste is a major source of air pollution that blankets Northern Thailand every year.
Our outreach program to help Stop the Smoke has focused with working with farmers in Mae Chaem.
The farmers we have worked with in the past will continue this year to convert their crop waste into biochar. They have reaped the benefits of adding biochar to their fields to improve soil conditions and increase crop yields.
Our goal this year is to continue to reach out to more farmers to increase the amount of crop waste that is turned into biochar, helping to eliminate more smoke from being generated through open field burning.
Mae Chaem is not the only source of smoke. In Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand, smoke from burning fields can be seen everyday. This year we will be reaching out to local farmers to offer training on how they can convert their crop waste into cash instead of burning it.
We will be raising funds to establish a local Biochar Activity Center, where we can provide education and training to local farmers with information on how to convert their crop waste into biochar.
Encouraging farmers to Stop the Smoke by making biochar instead of making smoke is one side of the equation. The other side required to make this work is to create a market for the biochar.
We intend to make this a community resource where everyone can learn about biochar and provide a marketplace for biochar cooking briquettes and biochar soil amendments for your gardens, and other biochar based products.
We all need to work together on this. Instead of getting angry with your farming neighbor for burning their fields, help us identify who they are so we can reach out and offer training.
Long Range Plans
In 2019 you helped us provide biochar to a small group of farmers in Mae Chaem to replenish dead soils so they could plant new crops, replacing the corn.
This year we are developing a comprehensive project that will have even bigger, long term impacts on cleaning our air.
Warm Heart will be leading a joint effort to restore mountain slopes used primarily for corn production with crops that produce far less waste and provide sustainable economic growth for the farming communities.
Our partners in this project include Shangri-La Hotel of Chiang Mai, Pacific Basin Economic Council, Kad Kokoa, and Monsoon Tea.
We will be putting forth a plan of agroforestry that will rebuild mountain slope forest lands with the following crops:
o Thai select cocoa
o Thai coffee
o Forest tea
o Pic Thai, green and black peppers
o Traditional tree fruits
Biochar will play a big role in preparing the soils. We will be working directly with select farmers to establish models to demonstrate how agroforestry can restore biodiversity, improve our water systems, create sustainable economic value, and yes, stop the smoke.
What is Agroforestry and how will it help Stop the Smoke?
In very simple terms, agroforestry is an environmentally-friendly way of farming that combines crops with trees.
Many farmers would like to switch to agroforestry, but don’t have the know-how. We are working to connect these farmers with experts who can help them map out their land and create designs that are custom tailored to their needs and environment.
While farmers can make more money through agroforestry in the long run, getting started requires an upfront investment. The landscape needs to be prepared, and trees need to be planted. Crucially, farmers need to install watering systems, so they can water their crops through the dry season.
We are working to provide farmers with cheap, flexible micro-loans to make these investments in their farms, so they can take the first steps towards reducing their dependence on corn crops, eliminating smoke forever!
We hope you will join us again this year with your continuing financial support and help us Stop the Smoke!
Warm Heart Biochar Project
One of the many benefits of biochar is it can be used as a smoke-free cooking fuel. Excess biochar that farmers do not use in their fields can be turned into biochar briquettes.
Wood and charcoal still remain the major cooking fuel for the low-income urban dwellers, restaurants and home cooking. While the smoke generated from cooking may be a small part of the overall problem, it is a significant problem for those who use these fuels, causing health problems directly related to the smoke.
Creating a sustainable business making and selling biochar briquettes is not only good for the environment, but also helps provide a healthier environment for those doing the daily cooking.
In India, it is estimated over 100 million households use dung, fuelwood, and trash to prepare their meals 2 – 3 times a day. Now that is opportunity knocking at the door!
Covid-19 Face Masks
The pandemic has made it a necessity to wear face masks while out in public. While this has helped to slow the spread of the virus, the simple face masks we are all wearing now will not protect you from the smoke that will be coming soon.
Every year “burning season” blankets north Thailand with choking smoke. It not only kills tourism, it kills people. The smoke is nasty – it stings the eyes and irritates the throat, but its most important constituent, PM2.5 – particulates so small that they pass right through the lungs’ walls – kills 4.3 million people around the world annually, many right here in Chiang Mai.
To protect yourselves from both Covid-19 and the impacts of smoky season we highly recommend switching to an N95 grade face mask. An N95 mask offers more protection than a simple mask does because it can filter out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales.
It is important which type of N95 face mask you choose. According to the India Health Ministry N95 face masks with a valve should be avoided, as they do not offer protection from the spread of the corona virus.
To protect yourself and your family from both smoke particles and virus spread only use N95 face masks with no valve.
New test for you!
Last month we had a test that calculated “How much does your smartphone pollute?”
If you missed it, here is the link: Test Your Impact
This month we have a new test for you, how much plastic do you waste?
The authors say “This plastic footprint calculator allows you to work out what your plastic usage will be in a year’s time. The aim is to encourage everyone to be more aware of how much plastic waste they are using. We encourage all of you to reduce or even stop some poor habits and to reduce your plastic footprint.” Give it a try!