A destructed house is seen surrounded by fields while a farmer burns straw along the agricultural road which leads to Cairo, Egypt October 4, 2020. Picture taken October 4, 2020. REUTERS
Egypt has collected and recycled more than 1.4 million tons of rice straw recently, as part of a protocol signed between the Agricultural and Environment ministries, to reduce the consequences of the black cloud formed due to pollution which is caused from the act of straw burning.
The burning of rice straw – a by-product of rice farming – results in the phenomenon of the black cloud in Egypt. It is a collection of toxic emissions that accumulate in the sky and darken its colour.
According to a statement released on Saturday by the agricultural ministry, the protocol also aims at helping farmers attain economic outputs as well as providing job vacancies.
The statement also said that the amount of recycled rice straw that has been collected was done so from 621 collection sites across six governorates: Dakahlia, Qalyubia, Sharqia, Gharbiya, Kafr El-Sheikh, and Beheira.
The collected amount will be utilised to produce organic fertilizers and non-conventional feedstuffs.
The black cloud phenomenon first appeared over the Nile Delta and Cairo in 1997, due to the burning of rice straw at the end of the harvest season, but did not become visible to the naked eye until two years later.
Rice is one of the most common crops cultivated by farmers in Egypt, and it is a staple food for the vast majority of the country's population.
According to a report released by the US' Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) in September, Egypt's rice production stood at 4.3 million tonnes in 2020/2021, the same as in 2019/2020, and the country's consumption of rice increased to 4.5 million tonnes in 2020/2021, up from 4.4 million tonnes in 2019/2020.