Ghana — Mr. Isaac Osei, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has expressed concern about the use of bushfires as a method of preparing land for farming.
He said the practice had serious and negative impact on the environment and had resulted in the destruction of tree species and was a major cause of global warming.
“Scientific research which, hitherto, could have been carried out to ascertain the medicinal value and efficacy of these species has been stifled as a result of the destruction of species through the activity of bush burning.”
“For instance, in places like Nkoranza, Kintampo and Techiman in Brong-Ahafo, the biodiversity has been seriously affected and all tree species have been burnt by inhabitants. In Nkoranza only the Senya species is dominant”, he said.
He said this at a forum organized by the Sunyani Polytechnic Branch of the Polytechnic Agriculture Students Association of Ghana (PASAG) under the theme: “Agriculture and the environment-The role of Agriculture Students” as part of their week celebration.
Mr Osei called for the institution of proper agricultural practises in Ghana which could serve as an alternative to the slash and burn method of farming.
He called for enforcement of laws regulating the use of agrochemicals particularly pesticides as well as the judicious and efficient use of fertilizers and pesticides in farming.
“It’s illegal to misuse and misapply pesticides and chemicals in fishing. In order to deal with the problem of using chemicals and pesticides, the EPA has already commenced an exercise to register pesticide dealers by giving them licenses before they start operating.”
“We embarked on an exercise with the task force to sanitise the system by closing and shutting down shops which sole these pesticides without licenses. It’s paying off because people now come in to regularize their operation.”
He said modern farming practice now employed fertilizer, pesticides and manure to boost production and this had impacted on the environment.
Mr. Osei said excess amount of pesticides and chemicals contaminated rivers and water bodies and affected water quality, and this led to fish kills and destruction of other aquatic organisms.
He said modern practices of raising animals for food contributed on a massive scale to air and water pollution, land degradation, climate change and loss of biodiversity.
“The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the meat industry contributed about 51 per cent minimum amount of all emissions of green house gases”, he said.
Mr. Osei suggested that bye-products of slaughtered animals and agriculture waste be turned into biogas.
On the role students can play in sustaining agriculture and environment, he called on students to be committed and dedicated to their studies and to develop research oriented technologies for solving problems of impact of agriculture on environment.
He appealed to the government to help graduates by giving them loans and land to start their businesses after school, embark on intensive education on efficient and proper agricultural practices, establish agricultural clubs at primary and secondary schools, develop advocacy strategies and lobby authorities for less impact of agriculture on the environment.
Mr. Dennis Osei Tutu, the former President of the Association, said the association found it difficult in accessing funds from the polytechnic administration as the association is under the Department of General Agriculture.
He said the association should revert to the old system where it operated its own account.
Mr Osei Tutu said the association had fruitful collaboration with Newmont Ahafo Mine in the areas of providing internship training and reclamation of degraded land.