Gambia — The farmers of Jarumeh Koto have been advised to create so-called protective fire belts around their farms in order to stave off destructive infernos, the latest of which led to the complete destruction of two millet farms in the Central River village on Sunday November 21st.
The farms belonged to Lamin Jatta and Adama Ceesay, the distraught owners who were joined by their shocked neighbours to deal with the smoky aftermath of the incident, which left rising plumes of wind-blown ash in its wake. Up to the time of going to press, the cause of the fire was not known.
The governor of the Central River Region Alhajie Ganyie Touray over the weekend visited the disaster sites and lamented over the plight of the farmers families who have been robbed of precious food stocks for the duration of the rainless season.
Governor Touray said he and the whole community of the CRR should join the aggrieved community of Jarumeh Koto and appeal for help to rehabilitate the two families directly affected by the disaster. The governor also called on the people of the CRR to be wary of forest fires which he ruefully observed had brought unwanted changes to the vegetation of the area, reducing once lush forests to lesser vegetative density, poorly regenerated bush and barren tracts devoid of much needed wildlife. Touray blamed recurrent forest fires for the gradual depletion of the forest cover in his region, calling on his people to change their perception of the forest as a source of raw material, which should otherwise be protected if soil erosion was to cease and the improvement of rainfall patterns and distribution should result from responsible practises. He argued that since the people of the CRR have had to contend with the menace of bushfires every year, they should with all intent and purpose embark on an anti-bushfire campaign which would reduce the risks and enhance safety measures which would render future fire disasters a rare and distant threat.
The CRR regional disaster coordinator Bubacarr Fofana also visited the scene with some members of the disaster committee who used the occasion to sensitize the shocked community on how to improve safety measures that would minimise and eventually banish incidence of bushfires from their community.
Fofana reminded the people of Jarumeh that bushfires are a recurring nemesis for farmers in the area, noting that last year a similar incident involving a fire burning wildly out of control led to the destruction of an orchard in the same village. According to the regional disaster coordinator, the role of the community in trying to institute safety measures to protect forests from bushfires is imperative if they were to live free of the yearly bushfire menace. He described fire as another factor of poverty in view of the huge setbacks it causes thanks in large part to its destructive nature.
Jalamang Darboe, the forest officer in the area pointed out to the Jarumeh community that since they are prone to bushfires every year, it was necessary to create fire belts around your farms, village and gardens to avoid future disasters of this kind. Darboes call found serious echo among community leaders such as ward councillor Musa Samura and Alkalo Kebutay Ceesay who emphasized the wisdom in creating a protective corridor which will not be breached by future fires running wild.
Jalamang Darboe also challenged the Jarumeh community aside from being vigilant to employ effective measures such as early controlled burning to minimize risks involving fire outbreaks.