R30 million in grazing lost to wildfires in Namibia

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Some 30 000ha of grazing have been destroyed by wildfires on 11 farms in the Otjiwarongo district in Namibia. Photo: Agriforum Magazine

A devastating wildfire that raged on 11 farms in the Otjiwarongo district, in the northern part of Namibia late last month, destroyed 30 000ha of grazing over a period of three days.

Namibian agriculturalist at AgriConsult, Dr Axel Rothauge, has calculated that the damage amounted to about R30 million.

Rothauge calculated the damage based on the cost of the grazing used as fodder for beef cattle. This was based on the average daily grass intake of a head of cattle to achieve a growth rate of 500g/day.

He also included the value of the per hectare grass production in the Otjiwarongo area. Otjiwarongo is the capital of the Otjozondjupa region of Namibia.

The cost of the grazing needed for 500g daily growth was determined at 50c/kg.

“Beef cattle consume about 13,5kg of dry grass per day at R6,75 daily. The value of the grass cover in Otjiwarongo works out at R1 000/ha, based on a grass cover of 2t/ha,” he explained.

According to Rothauge, the 30 000ha lost in the wildfires would have supplied enough feed for 6 000 beef cattle for nine months. Early and good rainfall was needed for the regeneration of grazing in the burnt areas.

It was vital that the affected camps were left fallow until the end of the Namibian summer rainfall season at the end of May 2021, to ensure optimum veld generation.