Indonesia — Authorities in the Indonesian province of Riau have welcomed the offer by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to cooperate in efforts to fight the haze due to forest and peat soil fires.
Deputy Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said as part of the cooperation the authorities there had sent several of their environmental officers to undergo courses and training about all aspects related to forest fires.
“We provide the courses so they can educate many farmers in the region to not burn their agricultural waste as well as change their agricultural methods.
“However, this will take time as the farmers are used to their easy methods,” Kurup told reporters after officiating the last round of the 19th debate among institutes of higher education at Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) here Tuesday.
He said usually many farmers in Riau would burn agricultural waste from opening up new areas or replanting instead of letting it decompose naturally.
Kurup said the ministry would also strive to put up a monitoring and a planned drainage system like in Rokan Hilir, a small district in Riau.
That is to handle the burning in Riau which is an area that has much forest fires and is closest to Peninsular Malaysia, he said.
Earlier reports said the situation in Riau had reached a serious level and strong winds now from the southeast to the northeast may bring the haze to Malaysia and Singapore.
Kurup said besides Riau, several provinces in Indonesia which will be part of the haze fight are Kalimantan Tengah, Aceh and Jambi, adding that the thick haze enveloping Pekanbaru was from Riau.
In the debate competition participated in by 26 institutions of higher education, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) emerged the winner and took the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment trophy, RM8,000 in cash, and certificates.
Universiti Multimedia which emerged runner-up took back RM5,000 and certificates.
UPM also produced the best debator in Amirrudin Abdul Rahman who won the ministry’s director-general’s trophy and cash of RM300.