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Fires put sugarcane at risk in the state of São Paulo

09/15/2020 | 17h54

Dry weather, associated with high temperatures, has increased the risk of environmental fires. This Tuesday (15), data from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) show that the risk of fire is critical in almost the entire state of São Paulo. With this scenario expected to continue for the next few days, there is a concern about criminal or accidental fires in the sugarcane fields, which affects the progress of the harvest of the 20/21 harvest, which is in full swing.


In general, most of the fires in the plantations originate in the areas bordering highways or that have easy access to the population. Cigarette butts, bonfires, land clearing, balloon release, for example, are the cause of these incidents. For this reason, producers invest heavily in communication actions with the population to change attitudes that generate fire risk.


Currently, approximately 99.6% of all sugarcane grown in São Paulo is harvested without burning, that is, the mills do not use burning as a pre-harvest method. Thus, eventual fires in sugarcane fields cause irreparable damage to plants and rural producers, since the entire structure has already been adapted for processing without burning.


Sugarcane plants and suppliers are victims of these events and have made significant investments to protect the cane field, which is their greatest asset and represents 60% of the costs of producing sugar and ethanol. In partnership with the state government, the sector works together in the prevention, inspection and awareness of Operation Corta Fogo. Among the actions are the maintenance of brigade teams and tank trucks; cleaning firebreaks to prevent outbreaks from spreading to areas of native vegetation; the installation of observation towers; the formalization of Mutual Assistance Plans (PAMs); monitoring by satellite images, and surveillance by cameras. Mills also work together with the Fire Department to fight forest fires.


Despite all efforts by producers to reduce the risk of fire, 11,000 hectares of sugarcane were affected by fire, equivalent to 0.2% of the crop area in the state of São Paulo, representing a great economic loss for producers. The causes are expected to be investigated and measures to be taken to mitigate these occurrences.


UNICA reinforces that companies are committed to fighting fire in plantation areas as quickly as possible, strictly complying with current legislation, reducing losses for all. Sustainability is a strategic differential of the sugar-energy sector recognized in Brazil and in the world, and sugarcane is a key element for the sustainable resumption of the country's economic growth, offering food and renewable energy, with sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity.

Font: T&B Petroleum/Press Office Unica
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