Farmers still lighting fires despite worsening haze
KANDIS, INDONESIA - On a vacant dirt field, some 82km north of Pekanbaru where we landed hours earlier, some farmers are still lighting fresh fires despite the worsening haze conditions in the area.
We stopped to talk to Mr Maliala Sembiring, who was burning oil palm fruit bunches to make fertilisers.
Mr Maliala, who is in his 50s, told ST that the low yield on oil palm fruits was one reason why he turned to this traditional way of making fertilisers, which involved burning the crop and using the ashes on other parts of the oil palm plantation.
"It's cheap and we avoid risks of using counterfeit fertiliser,'' Mr Maliala told The Straits Times.
"The yield is low around this time. Buying fertiliser is not wise. We have high yields in October through January.''
When asked if what he was doing could cause a forest fire, he said: "No. It won't burn the plantation.
"This area is sealed as you can see.''