Air Pollution Crisis Grips Southeast Asia, Threatens Agricultural Productivity

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News In Brief:
– Southeast Asia experiences worsening air pollution due to factors like transboundary haze, coal emissions, and El Niño, impacting local farmers and agricultural productivity.
– Urgent measures are needed to address this issue, with calls for stronger environmental policies and concerted efforts to mitigate air pollution’s adverse effects on public health and livelihoods.

Southeast Asia is experiencing a significant deterioration in air quality, primarily attributed to a combination of environmental factors. According to a report by environmental tech firm IQAir, eight out of nine countries in the region witnessed an increase in particulate matter pollution (PM2.5). This surge in air pollution has profound implications, particularly for local farmers across the region.

Northern Thailand, known for its fertile farmlands, has been particularly affected by the worsening air quality. Seasonal crop burning, exacerbated by high temperatures and dry weather conditions, has led to lingering haze over farmlands. This haze not only poses health risks to farmers but also hampers agricultural productivity, affecting crop yields and livelihoods.

Air Pollution Report

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s most populous country, witnessed a staggering 20% increase in average particulate pollution in 2023. While the capital city of Jakarta grappled with alarmingly high pollution levels, the mountainous city of Mamuju in West Sulawesi stood out as a beacon of cleanliness. However, even in cleaner regions, the adverse effects of air pollution persist, impacting local communities and agricultural activities.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) established a dedicated unit to address air pollution, underscoring the urgency of the situation. Environmental organisations like Greenpeace have urged governments to implement stringent measures to combat transboundary air pollution. These initiatives are crucial not only for safeguarding public health but also for protecting the livelihoods of farmers who bear the brunt of environmental degradation.

Chinwendu Ohabughiro
Chinwendu Ohabughiro
Chinwendu Gift Ohabughiro has a background in English and Literary Studies from Imo State University. She brings a fresh perspective to the world of agriculture writing. When she's not penning compelling content, she's likely lost in the pages of a thrilling mystery or treating herself to the sinful delight of chocolate.


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