Need to Avoid Indiscriminate Bush-Burning in Abia State this Dry Season

Ogbonnaya Akoma

During each year’s dry season, some people usually set fire on some nearby bushes in many parts of the country, including Abia state. This they do for some reasons. While some set the fires for gaming and hunting purposes as some animals are trapped, burnt, killed or displaced by the ravaging fires, others do so ostensibly to lessen the burden of clearing such bushes for cultivation and farming purposes for the coming year. Yet others set such fires on bushes just to provide grazing grounds for their cattle and sheep. 

To the latter, after burning the bushes along the roads, lowlands and similar farms during the dry season of each year, the roots of the burnt grasses are expected to sprout, grow and blossom again when the rains come in the new year which will provide fresh grasses and forage for their cattle, goats and sheep while grazing for their well-being and nourishment. 

The craze for bush-burning did not take place many years ago but is a recent developmental that goes ahead to add to the already saturated economic and financial woes of the people of Nigeria in general and Abia state wherever it occurs. The setting of wild and uncontrolled fires on nearby bushes and farmlands for whatever reason is most unwelcome as what we usually see while travelling through the Umuahia-Bende-Abam-Ohafia-Arochukwu road, and the Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Isuikwuato-Abiriba-Ohafia road, among other places. Apart from the fact that all the food crops that are planted in such farms are usually burnt and wasted away by the infernos, the nutrients that are contained in the affected soils, some worms that sometimes add to soil fertility through their burrowing and feeding activities, and the entire biodiversity activities which makes the planted crops grow and yield are burnt off by the destructive fires each time we burn bushes indiscriminately.

On the other hand, each time we burn any bush for the sake of it, we pollute the atmospheric environment with smoke, carbon dioxide and other harmful, noxious and toxic substances that affect the health of the people around such areas and make worse the cases of many more others who have underlining health conditions such as asthma and emphysema.

Again, through indiscriminate bush-burning, certain species of grasses, shrubs, plants, bulbs and lower animals that live on top or just beneath the soils are usually burnt away with the result that such burnt species become endangered accordingly, and sometimes completely wiped out from the planet earth. At other times, the fires we set on bushes cross and exceed the areas we initially intended and had in mind before setting such fires. When this happens, the food crops, domestic animals, houses in the neighbourhood and other things that belong to other people are destroyed. Not only this, other special herb-species, bulbs, shrubs, nuts and leaves our herbalists, native doctors and traditional medical practitioners need to carry out their all-important health services to the people become scarce and non-available and, in the end, many more Nigerians suffer because of this inglorious act of indiscriminate bush-burning in our midst.

That is why it becomes imperative and pertinent at this juncture, more than ever before, to enjoin all those who participate in the act of setting fires on other people’s farms, nearby bushes, parcels of land around the main roads, rice fields and other places and forests to desist from the act forthwith. Those herds men who graze their cattle along the roads, paths and in other people’s farms, rice fields, along the major roads in the South-East, South-South and other zones of country who have often been fingered to be among the people who deliberately set fire on bushes and farms in these areas in allegation should desist from such acts if they actually do that. 

Those who participate in the act in order to hunt for animals must do their hunting business using accepted traditional methods that are civilised and acceptable. Such methods include organising group-hunting expeditions with the relevant guns that are usually approved and licensed by the relevant government departments for this purpose. The farmers who usually set fire on their cleared farmlands preparatory to each year’s planting season must do so carefully in order not to allow such fires to spread and spill over to other areas not originally intended for such fires.

If there is any year Nigerians need to desist from setting fires on farmlands, bush-paths, rice fields, bushes, forests and other  places indiscriminately, it is during this dry season that will spill over to the  new year of 2021 considering that this  passing year has brought hardship, misery and economic hardship among the people of the world, Nigeria and Abia because of the emergence and spread of the coronavirus disease that has brought about the current food scarcity and inflationary trends in the local and international markets, and which have combined to tell on the people to this day in adversity.

About author

Ogbonnaya Akoma

Public health practitioner/public affairs commentator
Trans-Amadi Layout, Port Harcourt, Rivers State

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