Professor David Millar proposes bush fire management strategies

By Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo.

The President of Millar Institute for Trans-disciplinary and Development Studies, Professor David Millar says there are some practical difficulties in enforcing the laws on bushfires.

He pointed out that the pressures that are brought to bear on Security Agents that arrest bushfire offenders, as well as Chiefs who allow their subjects to be dealt with as a result of bushfire offences, are enormous thereby making the laws unenforceable. Professor Millar observed that the task given to the Security agencies and Chiefs to deal with bushfire offences are unpopular and therefore called for what he termed the transformation of a nuisance into an asset or money-making venture to elicit compliance. GBC’s Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo reports that the Professor was speaking at a Bushfire Management Stakeholders Forum at Jirapa in the Upper West Region.

Prof Millar gave some proposals for combating bush fires.

“I wouldn’t rely on laws; I wouldn’t rely on enforcement in order to achieve the minimization of bushfire which is desirable by all. I will make an effort to create a motivational situation that will make people not burn, with or without the police, with chiefs or without the chiefs, they will not burn.”

He continued that the best way to go forward is to create a direct income activity around that item which is supposed to be a nuisance, make it gold and it will cease to be a nuisance. It is human action, that if you can transform a nuisance into a money making item, the attitude and behaviours will change.

Later in an interview, Prof. David Millar stressed the need for the powers that be to buy into the idea of grass briquette (charcoal) he has designed as a bushfire management strategy.

“Until the powers that be hear it, and even try it out. I was just talking with one of the organizers of this forum that let’s pilot one or two and let people go and see its effect on bushfire management and generating income for poor communities as well as engaging the youth. In fact, the way I designed it (the grass briquette), when the factory produces it, the kayayee [contract carriers] should form an organization, they would pick it, we call them the off-lifters, they would take it from the factory, go and sell it and get the commission directly to them. They pay back certain amount to the factory and use part of it for themselves. So when you do that, you are now giving the kayayee gainful employment,’’ according to Professor Millar.

The Upper West Regional Director of Agriculture, Emmanuel Sasu-Yeboah noted that conventional farming practices such as continuous use of inappropriate tillage implements, deforestation through lumber exploitation and charcoal burning as well as bush burning contribute significantly to climate change with its associated effects.

‘’This way of farming is unsustainable and has resulted in floods, soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, prolonged dry spells during the farming season, rural migration, poverty and social conflict’’, he observed.

‘’The solution to these problems is to change from our conventional ways of agriculture to the use of appropriate conservation agriculture practices which are more resilient to climate change and its effects. The people who are most affected by these changes are farmers who solely depend on agriculture for their survival’’, Mr. Sasu-Yeboah emphasized.

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