FIRE HAS destroyed one-and-half acres of orange and pepper farm belonging to a youth group at Akuapim Akropong, close to Okuapeman Secondary School in the Eastern Region.
The fire was believed to have been started by a farmer who was burning his farm close to that of the youth group's.
The destroyed farm formed part of a 10-acre citrus and vegetable farm being undertaken by the group at Akropong.
The youth group, Friends de Environment, adjudged the best youth organisation in agriculture at the last Farmers' Day in the district, was formed in 1999 principally to help protect the environment by planting trees.
The group however branched into commercial farming to help give employment to its members and also help feed the country's agro-industries with the needed raw materials.
Friends de Environment was currently engaged in orange, exotic mango and palm oil plantations as well as food crops like cassava, maize and plantain.
It also undertook animal husbandry such as rearing of goats, sheep, cattle, grasscutter, turkey, piggery and bee-keeping.
Their farms were located at Tinkong, Kwamoso, Asempane, Panto and Akropong all in the Akwapim North District.
The 10-acre land was donated by Okuapeman School and the agreement was that the school was to benefit from the proceeds of the farm.
The disaster that befell the youth group last week led to the quick response of the Akuapem North District Assembly which had been assisting the group.
The Presiding Member, Mr S.A. Appenteng, in the company of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) official in the district, Mr Wirenkyi Kissiedu and the Agriculture Extension Officer in the Akropong area, Ms Juliana Tweneboah last week visited the farm, together with the leadership of the group to inspect the extent of damage caused by the fire.
They were taken round by the project co-ordinator, Mr Francis Otu Akuffo and president of the group, Mr Adum Kwapong.
The project co-ordinator told the delegation that the group wanted to set an example for the rest of the country's youth that prospects abound in farming.
“It is unfortunate that many youth are this time running away from farming because they think it is a waste of time to go into farming.
But we believe strongly that farming is an avenue through which one can make good money,” he said.
According to him, the burning of the farm was a big setback, since they had invested so much to get the crops to that level.
He appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture to come to their aid and help provide them with seedlings, tractor as well as other capital equipment to help them go into mechanised farming.
Mr Otu Akuffo also appealed to the Ministry to intensify its education on prevention of bushfires since they could destroy large tracts of farms and property.
The Presiding Member of Akuapem North District Assembly, Mr Appenteng gave the assurance that the assembly would see how it could help them recover from the setback.