Agriculture, tourism sectors lose US$320k to veldfires annually Mrs Amkela Sidange

Nqobile Bhebhe[email protected] 

THE agriculture, tourism and hospitality sectors lost infrastructure estimated at US$320 000 through veld fires last year with the Environment Management Agency (EMA) intensifying strategies of reducing prevalence rates.

Veld fires are a frequent occurrence in the mostly savanna ecosystems of Zimbabwe and have devastating effects, including socio-economic and environmental effects, if left unchecked.

According to EMA, numerous veld fires are caused by human activities such as land clearing, hunting and others.

Recorded veld fire causes include reckless disposal of cigarette stubs, lighting fires by roadsides while waiting for early morning buses, deliberate lighting of fires, children playing with matches, and improper household ash disposal.

EMA national spokesperson, Mrs Amkela Sidange, told Business Chronicle that the agency is implementing several measures in a bid to reduce veld fires and economic losses.

“In 2023, the nation lost property in the agriculture, tourism and hospitality industry with an estimated cost of US$320 025 to veldfires,” she said.

To mitigate damage and financial losses, Mrs Sidange, said the agency is implementing strategies enshrined in the 2006 National Fire Strategy as reviewed in 2010 impressing on the whole of Government Approach.

Collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development on veldfire management is being done.

She noted that this comes from the realisation that the agriculture sector is one of the worst affected by veldfires.

Biomass reduction mechanisms such as hay baling, fireguard construction, thatch and broom grass harvesting are part of measures implemented.

“The beauty about biomass reduction is that it reduces veldfire intensity and at the same time it is a revenue stream as farmers and communities can sell hay bales, thatch grass and brooms as well as simply conserving livestock feed,” she added.

Another strategy is that of establishing and training of fire-fighting committees and teams at village, ward and farm level and collaborative efforts with law enforcement in collaboration with traditional leaders and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The agency is also carrying out robust anti-veld fire campaigns and extension.

Veld fire

This year’s campaign is running under the theme, “Prevent Veld Fires – Protect the Environment and Livelihoods’.

“Inclusive participation of key and keen stakeholders from both the public and private sector in the fire management to prevent the scourge of veldfires.

“Communities participate in anti-veldfire campaigns. They participate in biomass reduction activities (fireguard construction/hay baling) and they respond positively to calls for training and reporting of culprits related to veldfire management,” she said.

Experts say veldfires have a direct impact on agriculture resulting in the destruction of crops, grain, pastures, equipment and the subsequent food shortages, financial and even job  losses.

Recently, the Minister of Environment Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said sustainable management of veldfires has a huge bearing on the achievement of the set targets in the National Development Strategy (NDS1), as well as the Sustainable Development Goals on Zero Hunger and Climate Action.

“Veldfires have become an issue of national concern given their wanton destructive nature.

Each year, the country loses over a million hectares of forests and grasslands depriving wildlife and livestock of pastures and leaving the country counting losses of property, infrastructure, crops, grain and human life,” said Dr Nyoni.


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