Stakeholders outline ways to avert fire incidents on farmlands
As part of efforts aimed at forestalling fire occurrences, which usually ravage farmlands in dry seasons with ensuing colossal losses, stakeholders have warned farmers and hunters to avoid all forms of arbitrary bush burning at this period.
The warning is coming on the heels of recent fire incidents that razed farm plantations, with losses running to several millions of naira. The recent incident occured last week when mysterious fire destroyed a10-hectare oil palm plantation around Onipepeye, along Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu expressway, in Obafemi-Owode Local Council, Ogun State.
It was discovered that the losses recorded at the farm, owned by the former Nigeria Ambassador to Zambia/Malawi, and one-time Commissioner for Women Affairs in the state, Folake-Marcus-Bello is running into several million of naira, as over 500 palm trees, among other farm produce ready for harvest were destroyed.
While some claimed that some hunters searching for bush meats might have ignited the fire, others said it might be a deliberate handwork of some unscrupulous elements.
The head of Farmers (Baale Agbe) in Imeko area, Ogun State, Chief Abdulazeez Ismail Abolore, who revealed that quite a number of such incidences were recorded last year, warned farmers to desist from such practice.
He said: “We have started the campaign in our area, warning farmers, hunters and youths from engaging in indiscriminate bush burning. Most times the fire goes out of control, destroying crops and other valuables.
“We have also tutored farmers to ensure that the borderline of their farms are weeded, so that in the case of any unforeseen fire outbreak, it will be difficult for the farm to catch fire.
A farmer, Mr. Olatokunbo Kuyoro, who advised farmers to completely abhor the practice of bush burning, said the damage is more than using manual labour. He said: “Bush burning has been an age-long practice that’s usually done in preparation of land for cultivation, to save the cost of labour, but farmers don’t realise that there’s danger in the practice.
“There is more damage to the burning of the bush than saving cost. Aside the danger of destroying plantations and crops, it also damages the soil nutrient. When you burn the farmland, some soil fertility enhancing organisms are destroyed. There are some micronutrients that help the soil to be productive and are instrumental to soil improvement, but the damage at the long run is worse.”
While describing the practice as penny wise, pound-foolish, Kuyoro said no farmer could control the extent of any fire initiated, “especially this harmattan period, the weather itself helps the fire to go beyond your control. The only thing is that we need to advise our people to let them know that the damage caused by burning bushes is more than using manual labour.”