Sugar cane burning in South Africa…Is it necessary?…How does it affect the area?…

It’s no wonder we have so much soot on our veranda.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

These three beautiful bushbucks come to visit almost every day. Most likely, the lighter-colored second female is an aunt, cousin, or sibling from another season. Both adults watch over the baby with loving concern.

Early yesterday afternoon, we took off for Komatipoort for our 2:30 pm back-to-back dental cleaning appointments at the same dental office where I had a filling repaired last week. 

Yesterday, as we drove toward Komatipoort for our dentist appointment, we saw the billowing smoke from sugar cane burning.

We’re pleased with the dentist, and a teeth cleaning was overdue for both of us. I should say the last cleaning we had in Costa Rica last August just wasn’t as good as we’d hoped, which requires another cleaning now.

As it turned out, after that last cleaning, a crown had fallen off of one of my molars, requiring I see yet another dentist in Atenas a short time later. I can’t say for sure if it was caused by the rough cleaning, but it seemed to be a coincidence. 

Tom made a u-turn for a better view.

Also, the necessity of last week’s dental appointment was due to a temporary filling I had in Curribatat that also fell out recently, causing a toothache that had to be dealt with. We’re thrilled with the dentist here, Dr. Luzaan, and feel confident all will work out well with the quality dental care in South Africa.  Right now, neither of us needs any major work.

Once we arrived in Komatipoort, we headed directly to the pharmacy to purchase malaria pills and a few toiletries for our upcoming trip to Zambia next Friday. We’ll begin taking the pills the day before we leave, during the seven-night trip, and for one week afterward.

We wondered as to how much pollution this process causes.

After the pharmacy, while still a little early for our 2:30 appointment, we headed to the biltong store to purchase our usual half bag of moist biltong. There are two types of beef biltong (jerky), moist and dry, with various options with flavorings. We prefer the plain moist biltong since it’s easier to chew and…won’t break a tooth!

By 2:25, we arrived at the dental office, only to discover, our appointment wasn’t on the books for some odd reason. The dentist was out of town. We’d left the appointment card at home, but once we returned, we checked it, thinking maybe we’d made an error. The card read as shown below, although the handwriting appears to say 16:30 when it fact upon careful inspection, it reads 14:30n (2:30 pm).

Our dental appointment card stated 14:30 (2:30 pm) as the correct time for our teeth cleaning. (It appears to say 16:30, but it is actually 14:30).

We weren’t angry or upset. That’s not us. Nor did we hold it against the dental staff or the dentist. We’ve made our fair share of mixed-up dates and times, here and there. Besides, we needed to purchase a few items at Spar and the Butchery making the trip to Komatipoort necessary anyway.

We rescheduled for Monday when we’ll return for our cleanings at 15:00 (3:00 pm). No worries. No big deal. Off we went for our shopping, and by the time we began the drive back to Marloth around 3:30 pm, we decided to take more photos of the sugar cane burning as shown here today.

The fires can burn all day.

Back at home, we put everything away, made a few preparations for dinner, and searched online for details regarding the burning of sugar cane in South Africa. There was little information available, as is often the case when we look up specific information on various topics in this world.

Thus, today we share a little on the burning of sugar cane from this site which, although not the same location we’re in, suffices to get the information across. The burning of sugar cane may not be of interest to most of our readers but, while living here in Marloth Park, it’s a big issue to many of the occupants of homes in this area. 

Of course, the amount of soot is dependent upon which way the wind is blowing.

The soot from the fires is unhealthy, filthy, and requires a tremendous amount of sweeping and cleaning. As we’ve mentioned lately, the bottoms of our feet are disgusting by the end of the day from the soot we encounter on the veranda day and night.

Here are some excerpts about sugar cane burning from this article:

“Residents have complained about the burning of sugar cane for several reasons, chiefly among them the depositing of smut onto the nearby residential property as well as environmental concerns.

Lately, the wind has been blowing right toward Marloth Park.

Cutting sugar cane without burning it is notoriously difficult and time-consuming. This practice is known as ‘green cane harvesting’ or ‘trashing’ and requires workers to cut the stalk in specific places and manually remove the leaves. The advantages of burning are numerous. 

Besides making the sugar cane easier to harvest, the flames also drive away cane rats and snakes that threaten workers. Burning reduces the weight of the harvested crop, which means transport costs are lower, and it improves the sucrose quality within the sugar cane stalk.

According to the South African Sugar Association’s (SASA) natural resource manager Dr. Marilyn Govender, the industry has researched and developed specific measures to address the implications of burning. These measures are implemented through the Codes of Burning Practices and form part of an initiative to promote Better Management Practices (BMP’s) in the industry.

The codes differ between regions in practice but focus on minimizing atmospheric pollution, preventing runaway fires and ensuring that farmers are well equipped in the event of such, minimizing smut deposits from cane fires in residential or otherwise sensitive areas, and preventing heat and smoke from being blown across public roads or affecting power lines.”

More information may be found by clicking on the above link.

The sugar cane harvesting season will end soon, making all the residents of Marloth Park pleased.  We all have to sweep several times a day.

We could wear shoes, but neither of us has worn shoes in a house for so long, it would be a tough habit to break. Plus, we’d still carry the soot into the house from the bottom of our shoes.

In the realm of things, soot is no big deal. At some point, the sugar cane harvesting season will end, and no longer will this be of concern for the residents of Marloth Park.

This sweet little mom bushbuck is warm and friendly, having won the hearts of many residents in the park.

We’re just so grateful to be here. We can live with the soot, the insects, the power outages, the heat and humidity (also to wane soon as winter approaches), and whatever other inconveniences locals whinge about.  I guess it’s human nature to whine a little, and we aren’t exempt from falling into that trap from time to time.

Today, we’ll stay put enjoying whatever visitors come our way.  Tonight, we’ve been invited to dinner by Louise and Danie at one of their gorgeous holiday homes (we stayed at that property for a period of time four years ago) only a few blocks from here. No doubt, it will be another wonderful evening with friends.  We’ll post photos tomorrow.

May your Friday (or Saturday for our Australian friends) be as special as you are. Be well. 

Photo from one year ago today, May 4, 2017:

The equator crossing celebration aboard the ship on this date one year ago. Please click here for details.