S’pore contributing S$1m to help tackle haze in Jambi, Indonesia

S’pore contributing S$1m to help tackle hazein Jambi, Indonesia

7 November 2007

published by www.channelnewsasia.com

Singapore — Singapore is providing S$1 million to an area inIndonesia’s Jambi province to help tackle the haze.

The money is earmarked for training officials and providing technical equipment.

The assistance is part of a masterplan signed between Singapore and Indonesiafocussing on fire prevention.

The haze which hit Singapore last year was said to be the worst in decades, so aplan has been in the pipeline since March to root out the problem.

To fight the haze, the first phase of the masterplan will see two stations setup in Jambi regency later in November.

The stations, costing some S$500,000, will automatically monitor the weather andair quality as well as measure the temperature.

The plan is to have the stations working by the next haze season from July.

Two batches of Jambi officials will also be trained in Singapore in the firstquarter of next year.

They will be trained to read and interpret satellite pictures so as to locatepossible fire hotspots.

Driving the bilateral masterplan is the National Environment Agency (NEA).

“The difference now is that we are working with a province – the localofficials. We have gone down to the ground, talk to the farmers and plantationowners to understand where the gaps and weaknesses are, then we can work onspecific action plans,” said Lee Yuen Hee, CEO of NEA.

At this stage, the NEA plans a total of six or seven programmes over the nextone or two years.

But the Jambi government recognises that local farmers need alternativelivelihoods. It is drawing up programmes to develop higher income rubber andpalm plantations as opposed to vegetable cultivation. It is also proposingfishing and tourism industries.

Singapore Food Industries has expressed an interest to develop the local fishingindustry.

While all parties are happy with the plans to tackle the haze, changing mindsetsremains a challenge.

“If we can institute reform in our ways of land clearing in particular, wecan make the local farmers more productive,” said Rachmat Witoelar,Indonesia’s State Minister of Environment.

Indonesia wants to use non-burning techniques to burn cleared vegetation. Thecountry claims that it can turn the waste into fertiliser or compost.

Under the masterplan, the Jambi model can also be used for other fire-pronedistricts in Indonesia

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