Local farmers have started intensive farming activities within the catchment area of the Barekese dam at Ayensua-Kokoo and Ayensua-Fufuo in the Offinso district and around the Offin river between Old Offinso and Ahenkro area in the Afigya-Sekyere district of Ashanti.
Vast stretches of virgin forest reserves could be seen cleared and burnt ready for the cultivation of food crops, especially maize and vegetables in the catchment area while chainsaw operators were logging economic trees with impunity.
This came to light when Madam Cecelia Abena Dapaah, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing on Friday paid a working visit to the area to ascertain the extent of damage farmers were causing to the Dam which provides water for people in the region.
She was accompanied by the officials of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) led by Mr Samuel Mensah, acting Ashanti Regional Chief Manager.
Madam Dapaah stressed the need for management of GWCL to continue to sensitise the farmers and other stakeholders on the need to stop depleting the forest.
She said the issue of compensation which has been the bone of contention was being handled at high levels and they should therefore exercise restraint and help to protect and preserve the dam and other river bodies in the area.
Madam Dapaah, who is the Member of Parliament for Bantama, said there was the need for people in the area to sacrifice for the good of the nation, adding that the destruction of the dam and the river bodies would go to affect all Ghanaians now and those yet unborn.
Some of the farmers who happened to meet the Minister on the farms said their continued farming on the same piece of land had rendered those lands infertile and they had no option than to shift cultivation to feed themselves and their families.
They said they would however cease farming in the area when they are paid their compensation