Hundreds of thousands of hectares lost to veld fires in North West

About 600 000ha in the North West have been lost to veld fires since the beginning of August. According to Naude Pienaar, assistant general manager of Agri North West, a large percentage of these fires had been caused by arson. Four people had also lost their lives in the veld fires.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares lost to veld fires in North West
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Jaco Mare, a Hartbeesfontein stud beef cattle producer, who lost 95% of his land in three separate veld fires, said the effect of the blaze could not be described. He added that he had lost 95% of his land.

“To see the flames devouring one’s livelihood is traumatic in the extreme. Not only have we lost vast expanses of grazing, we’ve also lost, among others, a herd of 84 impala. The emotional impact of this on us as a family has been severe,” he said.

“Our hope now is for early rains for the veld to recuperate as soon as possible. I must, however, stress the fact that we, as is the case with many other veld fire victims, have been buoyed by the ongoing community support now and during the fires. Volunteers came from as far afield as Wolmaranstad and Bothaville to help us fight the flames.

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“South African farmers are a resilient lot, and we are adept at rising above extreme challenges and we will do so again,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.

The Agri SA Disaster Relief Foundation in the meantime called for assistance in the wake of the overwhelming fires.

“These devastating fires have hit the agriculture sector at a time when farmers already face immense challenges. As a result of all these challenges, farmers are liable for an estimated R205 billion in debt, a high burden that renders those affected by the fires unable to absorb this latest tragedy,” said Christo van der Rheede, Agri SA CEO.

Agribusiness Senwes recently announced it had donated R500 000 to Agri SA’s Disaster Relief Fund in the wake of the recent devastating fires in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.