Members of the Unity Beekeepers Association in the Techiman Municipality have called for the establishment of anti-bushfire committees in all the municipal and district assemblies in the Brong Ahafo Region to fight against bushfires which have caused damage to crops and vegetation in the area.
According to them, the formation of fire volunteer squads had the backing of PNDCL 229 of 1990 which mandated district assemblies to set up bushfire control subcommittees under the executive committee arm of the assemblies.
They made the call at a workshop organised by the Centre of Posterity Interest Organisation (COPIO), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund) with the support of the European Union, the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Leading the beekeepers to deliberate on an advocacy research report on the fight against bushfires, the Research Director of COPIO, Dr John Yaw Akparep, called on district and municipal assemblies in the region to enact comprehensive and culture-friendly anti-bushfire bye-laws that would deter prospective fire starters.
He noted that it was believed that the bushfire menace was embedded in the cultural practices of the people.
Dr Akparep also called for practical policy actions to prevent and control bushfires, explaining that to do this effectively, district and municipal assemblies, communities, chiefs and other stakeholders should be involved in issues pertaining to bushfire management in the region.
He recommended stiffer penalties for hunters who flouted the assemblies' bye-laws to deter those who might wish to engage in the destruction of the environment.
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Dr Akparep appealed to the law enforcement agencies to be strict in the enforcement of laws on bushfires while municipalities and districts without bye-laws on bushfires should enact them and provide fire volunteers with the needed support.
He further called for the review of PNDCL 229 on bushfires to give more power to traditional rulers to deal with offenders in their local areas and suggested the institution and the implementation of alternative farming methods such as controlled burning and adoption of modern farming systems instead of the slash and burn methods in order to minimise the incidence of bushfires.
Business under threat
The Chairman of the Unity Beekeepers Association, Mr Kingsley Owusu Acheampong, called on the public to consider bushfire as an enemy.
“We should all be involved in mapping up strategies to curb bushfires since our existence as beekeepers is under threat due to indiscriminate bushfires”, he stated.
Mr Acheampong called for more fora to educate farmers on their role in the fight against bushfires in the region.