Ghana — Acres of mango, cashew, maize, yam and cocoa farms in 11 communities in the Nkoranza Municipal and Nkoranza North Districts were early this year destroyed by fires set by well-armed Fulani herdsmen and group hunters.
The communities are Bredi, Nyanase, Akuma, Donoso, Kantakani, Fiema, Nkoranza, Busunya, Ahenfie, Makyinmabre and Nankurase.
The people have therefore called for the re-introduction of military task force to patrol the communities and curb the destructive activities of the Fulani herdsmen whose cattle also destroyed their farms.
Mr. Paul Opoku Nsowaah, Presiding Member (PM) of the Nkoranza Municipal Assembly, said this at a dialogue meeting organised by the Nkoranza and Techiman Bee keepers Association (NATBA) at Nkoranza on Wednesday.
Due to the alarming rate of bushfires in the communities, the Association with funding from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC) carried out a research to ascertain the major causes of the outbreaks.
The research findings conducted in Nkoranza North District, Nkoranza, Techiman and Kintampo Municipal area revealed that, bushfires had become the leading cause of poor and low yields in those areas.
Mr. Nsowaah a victim of bushfires, said although the ban on group hunting was still in force, the youth who go on the hunting expeditions wielded guns and other offensive weapons and threatened fire volunteers.
He said the best way to control the situation was to deploy a military taskforce to the area to support the fire volunteers.
Mr. Nsowaah advised farmers to always raise fire belts around their farms and also engage fire volunteers whenever they wanted to set fire on their farms.
Nana Adu Kofi III, Atekoanohene of Nkoranza Traditional Area, said his 100 bags of maize were destroyed by the fire.
He said for some years now bushfires had become a serious threat to the communities, and that a few days ago fire destroyed more than 150 bags of maize packed in a shed at Makyinmabre.
Nana Okofo Adjapong III, Chairman of the Nkoranza Municipal Assemblys sub-committee on Justice and Security, said the bye-law on bushfire in the area had no strong legal backing.
He said due to this, the committee did not have any power to impose harsh sentences or fines on culprits brought before them.
Many of the farmers told the Ghana News Agency that they took bank loans and repaying the loans had become a problem for them because fire had destroyed their farms.
Mr. Richard Okoe, Project officer of the Nkoranza-Kwabre Rural Bank, confirmed to the GNA that the bank gave out GH¢400,000 as loans to farmers in the last crop season.
He said because most of them had lost their produce to fire, the bank had no option than to give the farmers ample time for them to pay back the loans.
Station Officer II Joseph Anti, Administrator of the Nkoranza South Municipal Fire Service, said bush fires were a major challenge in the two districts.
He said bushfire continued to increase in the communities and that from January to April the service had recorded more than 21 cases.**