Cameroon — With the approach of the new planting season, many people usebush fires as an easy way of preparing their farmland.
Any visitor to Yaounde during this time of the year will be shocked at firstsight. It is common place to see smoke or fire in some parts of the townespecially in the outskirts. Bush burning, which is a local traditional methodof farming in remote areas, is now being practised in the town. In mostneighbourhoods, the inhabitants have transformed their gardens, surroundings andbuilding plots to farmlands.
With the approach of the new planting season, many people depend on bushfires as an easy way of clearing their gardens or farms for planting. Sidonie M.who lives in the Mendong area of the city told Cameroon Tribune that she owns asmall garden behind her house. She said she prefers bush burning because itmakes the soil more fertile. Also, it is the easiest way of clearing the farmespecially during the dry season when the soil is dry and hard. “I burn thegrass early enough and wait for the coming of the rains to soften the ground forplanting,” she said. Marthe N. who also lives in Mendong owns a piece ofland a few metres from her home. The land, according to her, was bought fouryears ago with the aim of building a house. She decided to transform the landinto a farm in order to meet some of her family needs. She also practises bushburning not minding whether she lives in the town or not. What has raisedeyebrows is that the bush fires have become a major threat to the population. Insome areas, the farms are quite close to houses and so pose a threat to peopleliving around. Due to over- crowding in some areas, electricity cables arecrossed slightly above houses and on the ground in some places. In some caseschildren are sent to burn the farms without any control.
Apart from that, sparks are carried by the wind due to the weather conditionsnow. As a result houses might go on flames if care is not taken. Paul K., one ofthe inhabitants of the Etouge-Ebe neighbourhood complained that bush fires arefast becoming a major threat to the population especially during dry season.”People burn their bushes without taking into consideration the risksinvolved in such archaic practices,” he lamented. According to Marthe, eventhough burning disturbs neighbours around her, she takes necessary precautionseach time she is burning. These notwithstanding efforts are being made by theYaounde Urban Council authorities to combat the phenomenon