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90 day deadline for farmers to hand over banned agrochemicals

Jack Burton

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90 day deadline for farmers to hand over banned agrochemicals | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand
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In the culmination of a long-running feud over hazardous farm chemicals, Thailand’s Department of Agriculture has finally given Thai farmers a 90 day deadline to turn in some herbicides and pesticides for destruction, as they are officially illegal. Manufacturers or importers of the chemicals now banned under Thai law have 270 days to destroy their stocks.

Yesterday’s announcement was in line with the Ministry of Industry’s May 15 decision to place paraquat and chlorpyrifos on the list of hazardous chemicals and ban their use in the kingdom, effective June 1. Farmers in possession of paraquat and chlorpyrifos must return the chemicals to designated shops between June 1 and August 29.

An adviser to the minister to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives says the ministry has set up a working group on three hazardous agrochemicals, including paraquat, chlorpyrifos and the controversial insecticide glyphosate. Guidelines on how to destroy the chemicals will be publicised at a later date.

Shops assigned to collect the chemicals have 120 days to collect all returned items, and complete documents must also be submitted to the department’s officials.

The shops will also be in charge of sending returned items to manufacturers or importers, who will have 270 days to destroy them. The destruction of the chemicals will be no later later than February 25 next year. They must fill a form to declare the amount returned, set up an eradication plan and submit the results of destruction to the department’s officials. The task of destroying them will not fall to the department.

Any person found in possession of the illegal agrochemicals will be fined 1 million baht and/or jailed for 10 years.

Thai Pesticide Alert Network’s coordinator says the department faces a challenge assembling a task force to create understanding with local farmers on how to deal with the two banned hazardous chemicals. They should be informed on how to drop them at the shops properly and “it would be useful if there are signs to let them know the drop locations.”

“We won’t regard this as a success but it is a step in the right direction for sustainable farming which relies less on chemicals. Thailand wants to be the world’s kitchen and the government must have a clear policy to produce safe food for the world.”

The secretary-general of the Federation of Safe Agriculture, laments that farmers are the ones most affected by the ban, saying even though they spent their own money to buy the chemicals, there is no compensation for them.

SOOURCE: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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Environment

Government nominates Tham Luang park for ASEAN heritage ranking

Maya Taylor

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Government nominates Tham Luang park for ASEAN heritage ranking | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

The Thai government has nominated Tham Luang Forest Park in the northern province of Chiang Rai for ASEAN heritage status. The park made headline news around the world when 13 young boys and their football coach became trapped in Tham Luang cave following flooding.

Today marks two years to the day that all 14 were found alive by a team of volunteer divers from the UK and Thailand. At that stage, they had been missing for 9 days. Such were the complexities involved in getting them out, they would spend a total of 17 days in the cave. Their story became headline news, with the world anxiously watching a dramatic rescue that unfolded over the course of 3 days.

Tham Luang Forest Park is now going through the process of becoming a national park, and, following a proposal by Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, has been nominated for ASEAN heritage status. Khao Sok National Park, in southern Thailand, has also been nominated. The ranking would boost the profiles of both parks, which it’s hoped would lead to an increase in funding for conservation projects. It’s understood several endangered species can be found within Tham Luang Forest Park, which is also surrounded by 10 ethnic groups, including the Tai-Yai and Akha peoples.

There are currently 6 parks with ASEAN heritage status in Thailand.

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Thailand

International charity exposes Thailand’s abuse of elephants for tourist trade

Maya Taylor

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International charity exposes Thailand’s abuse of elephants for tourist trade | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Moving Animals

The international non-profit organisation, World Animal Protection, has released distressing video footage that blows the lid open on the cruelty involved in the use of Thai elephants for the tourist trade. The footage, secretly filmed at several unnamed camps over two years, shows how elephants are beaten into submission so they will perform tricks for tourists.

The training begins when baby elephants are forcibly taken from visibly distraught mothers, who never see them again. In one instance, the footage shows one female elephant, Gintaala, who has had each of her four calves taken from her one by one. Roatchana Sungthong, the World Animal Protection’s country manager, says such forced separation is cruel.

“Elephants, they are together. They walk in herds and they look after each other. So, doing things like that is very inhumane.”

The baby elephants are transported to camps where they are chained up in isolation and undergo physical and mental abuse on a daily basis. The charity says such practices are intended to break an elephant’s spirit to the point of total submission, where it will agree to spin hoops with its trunk, painting on canvas, or walking on its hind legs – all typical of the tricks performed for tourists at “elephant shows” around the country.

The practice of breaking the elephant’s spirit is known as the “crush” (phajaan, in Thai) and involves forcing them to walk with chained legs, hitting them with bull-hooks, and taking them onto busy highways to instill fear and submission. The charity has collected footage of 8 elephants being put through this training at various camps.

Speaking to Reuters, Thailand’s environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, says such practices will not be tolerated. He adds that if the footage is real, action will be taken, urging anyone with information to come forward. Meanwhile, the owner of one elephant camp north of Bangkok, dismisses the footage as “staged.”

“Those video clips are fake, and it was a setup. Who would do such things? To me, there is no reason to do that.”

World Animal Protection insists, however, that the footage is real and not a set-up.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket’s Sirinat National Park to open again from Wednesday

Maya Taylor

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Phuket’s Sirinat National Park to open again from Wednesday | The Thaiger
PHOTO: thainationalparks.com

Sirinat National Park, along the west coast of the north end of Phuket, is set to re-open on Wednesday, according to the province’s deputy governor, Wongsakorn Numchukan. It follows the re-opening of other national parks around the country 2 weeks ago after a 2 month shutdown initiated to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. And as with re-openings elsewhere, Deputy Phuket Governor Wongsakorn says there are some new rules visitors will need to be aware of.

“This Wednesday, July 1, the park will reopen after more than two months of being closed. It will adjust its policies to serve tourism in this new normal era and to prevent Covid-19 from spreading. To maintain social distancing, only 560 tourists will be allowed in at a time.”

A report in Nation Thailand today says visitors can book in advance, using the QueQ app, or purchase tickets on arrival. Wongsakorn says officials predict 70% of people will book online ahead of visiting. He adds that everyone will be required to wear face masks and will need to be health screened prior to entry. They will also be required to check in and out using the Thai Chana contact-tracing platform.

“All visitors must follow measures suggested by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, such as wearing face masks at all times, going through screening checkpoints with thermal scanners and washing their hands regularly. Most importantly, they must check in and check out using the Thai Chana application to get alerted if a new case is discovered.”

The park was renamed Sirinat National Park in 1992, having formerly been known as Nai Yang National Park, and is renowned for its beautiful beaches and mangrove forests, with coral reefs popular with snorkelers about 1,000 metres offshore.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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