Alternative practices to mitigate agricultural open burning in Peru

Farmers in many parts of the world set fire to cultivated fields to clear stubble, weeds and waste before sowing a new crop. While this practice may be fast and economical for farmers, it is highly unsustainable, as it produces large amounts of the particle pollutant black carbon and reduces the fertility of soil. Open burning is the fourth largest source of black carbon after household energy, transport and industrial production.

Black carbon is a short-lived climate pollutant that contributes to air pollution, climate change, and increased melting in the cryosphere (regions of snow and ice). Open burning also represents one of the largest causes of air pollution-related illnesses and deaths after traditional cookstoves.

Introducing climate-smart agriculture techniques, including no-till and soil restoration, via sponsored training, equipment, and model farms can eliminate prescribed open burning while increasing productivity and soil quality. Co-benefits of no-burn climate-smart agriculture include reduction of irrigation needs, improved air quality and public health, improved soil quality, increased yields, and capacity building via training, technology, and equipment.


The Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Agriculture Initiative supports regional networks and projects that facilitate the adoption of open burning alternatives. Implementing these “no burn” methods could cut global black carbon emissions by half, while simultaneously providing economic and social benefits for farmers.

Since 2014, the CCAC has been working with the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI), to raise awareness and ambition about tackling this problem, together with local partners; through demonstration projects in Peru and India.

In Peru the demonstration project was implemented with the support of CARE Peru and the National Agricultural Innovation Institute (INIA for its acronym in Spanish) for Peru.



The Huaytapallana snow hill provides around 40% of the water used by residents of Huancayo city (Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP) in Spanish). Accelerating melting of the snow area on Huaytapallana is increasingly threatening this supply. In the last 20 years, the hill has lost around 5 square kilometres, half of its snow area.

Higher temperatures and more extreme, less predictable weather conditions are exacerbating the problem and will disporportinately impact the low-income rural communities who are most vulnerable to threats to water supply.

Open burning is still frequently practiced by farmers in the Huaytapallana area because it is believed to be an effective solution for eliminating weeds and crop residue and produce faster growing crops. But, this practice is further accelerating the loss of snow and degrading air quality through the release of black carbon and other fine particles.

Many farmers lack the tools and knowledge to adopt more climate-friendly practices, which is why Coalition partners are working to provide training and viable alternatives to burning.


What we're doing


The demonstration project in Peru has taken a three-pronged approach to introduce no-burn agricultural systems: mapping and monitoring to define the problem, education of farmers, and expert policy support to governments. 

Activities have encompassed:

  • Mapping open burning patterns from the field- to regional-level and creating informational materials
  • Demonstrating the available solutions to farmers through local partnerships with entities focused on more sustainable agricultural practices (NGOs, civil society, state and federal extension services, agribusinesses, among others)
  • Bringing together experts, policymakers, and progressive farmers for strategic support to discuss and troubleshoot practical solutions through conferences, meetings, and workshops

Specific interventions in these projects have included:

  • Distribution and publication of residue management strategies, literature, brochures, and the use of billboards, media broadcast, web, and mobile technology to raise awareness
  • Organization of farmer awareness camps, farmers-scientists meetings, field days, school awareness camps, door-to-door contact, farmer training camps, village-level workshops, on and off campus farmers’ trainings, exposure visits to demonstration plots and farms of progressive farmers associated with crop residue management
  • Engagement of institutions such as oblast/rayon administrations, schools and universities, identifying and training of ambassador farmers/opinion leaders
  • Celebration and award ceremonies for farmers practicing no-burn methods and of progressive farmers to persuade the farmers about more sustainable ways to manage crop residue


Pollutants (SLCPs)