Farmers advised to adhere to regulations against farming within water buffer zones

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Mr Solomon Danso-Ankamah
Mr Solomon Danso-Ankamah

Farmers engaging in cultivation within water buffer zones have been advised to adhere to regulations against activities in such sensitive areas.

Mr Solomon Danso-Ankamah, the Principal Basin Officer, Tano Basin Secretariat, Water Resources Commission (WRC), Sunyani gave the advice in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani.

MR. Danso-Ankamah said though the Commission recognised the need for citizens to engage in economic activities for the sake of survival and other purposes, that must not be done at expense of sustainable development, hence citizens must avoid farming within the buffer zone areas in the country.

He said in applying fertilizers and other agro-chemicals like pesticides and weedicides, if the farm was within the buffer zone and it rained, all the toxins would be washed into the river and that could affect aquatic life and human use.

Mr Danso-Ankamah explained the idea was for the vegetation (buffer zone) to be closer to the water body to serve as a shield and sieve the toxins which would come because of a chemical application when it rained to ensure the water resources experienced just minimum effect.

”We always educate farmers not to farm within the 100-metre buffer zone, the zone has ranges and the minimum buffer for a river like Tano is 60 metres, but depending on the land use in the area or the slope, one might go 100 metres or beyond”, he indicated.

According to him, research had proven that the more the quantity of fish in a water body, the higher the possibility and ability for the water to sustain over time without drying up quickly, saying fishes too were able to survive at a certain level of temperature, and if the oxygen level was down some fishes could not survive.

Mr Danso-Ankamah therefore cautioned farmers against breaking into the buffer zone areas during the dry season to farm and even pump water from the river bodies because to pump water from any form of water body, one must obtain permit from the Commission.

But he added the law had given exemptions based on the size of the farm to be watered, saying “if the farm size is less than an acre it is exempted because it is considered a peasant and not a commercial farming”. 

Mr Danso-Ankamah said the Commission had the mandate to regulate and manage freshwater, both surface, and groundwater uses, saying either an individual or company desiring to use water for any purpose must acquire a permit from the Commission.

He stated the Commission under its Water Use Regulation, Legislative Instrument (LI) 1692 of 2001 made provision for individuals and companies to seek permission before using water, while the Drilling license and Ground Water Regulation, LI 1827 of 2006 stipulated a permit must be acquired before groundwater could be tapped or drilled.

Mr Danso-Ankamah said the buffer zone policy had been developed since 2012 and gotten cabinet approval, but unfortunately it was yet to be passed into law to ensure its effectiveness to act against persons who breach the law.

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