Sand winning destroys arable lands
5/3/2012 12:31:03 PM -
By Anthony Kwaku Amoah
I believe some people may be thinking it is only illegal mining which poses a threat to food production. Sand winning also does. Almost every corner of this country has some negative story to tell about sand winning. Forests have been pulled down, coastal soils massively scooped, and savannah areas further degraded through sand winning.
Any attempt to promote food production and security would be fruitless, unless activities like sand winning on arable lands are checked. For how long can we stand aloof to see sand winners destroy our farm lands? Arable lands have been allowed to suffer for far too long. There is an urgent need for them to be protected against any further destruction, by exposing and intimidating those involved in these nefarious acts.
Sand winning has become so rampant that almost every land piece is now vulnerable. Farmers continue to harbour fears, since they do not know exactly when their farms will be destroyed. Crops are often vandalised to allow for easy collection of sand. Farmers go through many harrowing situations.
The vicious cycle of poverty and hunger would continue to thrive among us, should illegal sand winning remain unchecked. Already, farmers have myriads of mishaps to battle with. There are natural, socio-economic, cultural, religious and even political factors militating against farmers' production fortunes.
Disappointments from the local weather, especially rainfall, prevalence of pests and diseases, lack of funding, high cost of farm inputs, machinery and implements, fluctuations in market conditions, and redundant cultural bans on the production and use of some commodities in certain localities have emasculated the farmer's ability to produce on a large scale.
The farmers' predicaments get deepened when disasters like bush fires, floods and droughts also rear their ugly heads in farms. In fact, the farmer has numerous hurdles to mitigate before any successful production story can be told.
These, notwithstanding, farmers still struggle to till lands as a means of livelihood to provide food, clothing, shelter and education for their families. The farmer sees his/her farm as a gold mine where crops like cassava, maize and yams are highly revered.
Unfortunately, sand winning, in modern times, seems to have brought some imbalances to the agricultural production sector. Areas once noted for good vegetation and topography have turned into savannah grasslands, with their own attendant consequences on food production.
A recent expedition to parts of the Ga West and South municipalities has given me an opportunity to fully appreciate some negative effects of sand winning.
Farm lands at areas like Kojo Ashong, Ashalaja, Obokwashie, Obom, Kofi Kwei, Odumprala, Kudeha, Dome Faase, Paano, Fankyeneko and Adjen Kotoku have been amply degraded.
What makes the activities of sand winners so disturbing is the way they destroy farm lands. The winners do not usually give farmers prior notification. Immediately they complete their contract agreements with the so-called land owners, they quickly move to the sites to initiate work. With the aid of bulldozers and excavators, these sand winners vandalise crops with impunity. The affected farmers are not compensated.
Lands are perpetually damaged and rendered unproductive. Aside destroying crops and lands, sand winning activities also pose some threats to human health. Moving trucks emit excessive noise and dust, causing pollution, and gullies created at these sites close to homes become breeding grounds for mosquitoes during rainy seasons.
The appeal recently made by the Assembly Member for the Kofi Kwei electoral area, Mr. Pius Fiakuna, through TV3 to the authorities concerned, must be taken seriously. The various District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies (MMDAs), the Ghana Police Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be well-resourced and legally empowered to prosecute individuals and companies that embark on sand winning and allied activities without requisite permits.
Ghana's resolve to mitigate the negative effects of climate change may face serious hiccups should the authorities continue to relax in clamping down on sand winning at unauthorised locations.
No one is totally against the operations of construction firms. At all cost, houses would have to be built; roads, schools, hospitals and markets need to be constructed. There is no way this can happen without using the soil. But, it would be ideal if the authorities could properly designate areas for these soils to be collected.
They must also ensure that prospective sand winners adequately complete all processes regarding effective land use, evaluation and reclamation, to allow for the protection of other people's welfare in society.