Home News LOOK: NC farmers suffer ‘astronomical losses’ due to veld fires

LOOK: NC farmers suffer ‘astronomical losses’ due to veld fires

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The veld fires are said to have started in the Free State and spread over the provincial border to the Northern Cape.

Residents assisting in fighting the blazes. Picture: Soraya Crowie

FIREFIGHTERS and community members in the Warr

enton and Windsorton area and farmers along the N12 were this week hard at work trying to extinguish runaway veld fires.

The veld fires are said to have started in the Free State and spread over the provincial border to the Northern Cape.

A Northern Cape farmer, Gregg Garret, whose 3 000-hectare farm is located along the N12, said they suffered “astronomical losses” due to the fires.

“We have about five farms and about 50% of that land was affected by the fire,” said Garret yesterday.

“A fire broke out on Monday in Windsorton and spread to one of our farms. We fought that fire from Monday until aout lunchtime on Tuesday. The fire, we were informed, spread up until Mkhulu Lodge.”

Garret said that they had set up fire breaks to try and curb the damage.

“Our neighbour’s entire farm was totally destroyed. We had installed fire-breaks and our farm was partially burnt. All of our farms were affected,” he said.

Garret added that community members were very quick to come and give a helping hand in fighting the fires.

Garrett indicated that they are not certain about the cause of the fires.

“We heard that the fires in the Free State flared up after protesters apparently burnt tyres along the road. However, there are allegations that the fires in Windsorton were started after people were doing some welding work on a fence line. We are not certain if that was indeed the cause of the incident.”

The president of Agri Northern Cape, Nico Jansen, commended the community members who came out in their numbers to assist in fighting the fires.

“Farmers have not yet received any assistance from the government, however, civil society has truly gotten their hands dirty in helping to stop the spread of these fires. People came from far and wide to help fight the fires and many have indicated that they will assist with the provision of fodder for the animals who have survived,” said Jansen.

He added that more education around the dangers of veld fires is required. He also urged community members not to post unverified information on social media.

The Northern Cape MEC for Agriculture, Mase Manopole, said her department will avail emergency fodder to all farmers who have been affected by the fires.

“The department will release emergency fodder from its Fodder Bank to assist affected farmers to feed their animals. Officials have already been dispatched to carry out an assessment of the damage and are profiling the affected farmers.

“The department has also engaged organised agriculture – such as AgriNK, Saamwerk Saamtrek, NAFU and AFASA – to ensure a co-ordinated response and provision of fodder,” said Manopole.