Kimberley – While more than 100 000 hectares of grazing land has been lost as a result of the persistent veld fires raging in parts of the Province, the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture is currently determining the full extent of the damage to the agricultural sector.
This is according to Northern Cape Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, who, together with the MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mase Manopole, flew over the affected areas today to assess the scale of the damage.
The veld fires have wreaked havoc in areas such as Jan Kempdorp and Warrenton and it is feared that they will spread to other parts of the Province.
Many farmers have lost property, livestock and grazing land, while the strong winds and dry, hot weather, have thwarted attempts to extinguish the flames, which keep re-igniting.
Saul said, following his flight over the affected farms on Friday morning, that the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) had been working closely with the District Disaster Management Centre (DDMC) and organised agriculture to bring the fires under control.
“More than 100 000 hectares of grazing land has already been lost while farmers have also lost livestock,” Saul stated, adding that the satellite office of the Department of Agriculture was busy trying to determine the full extent of the damage. “This will allow us to know exactly the full extent of the losses suffered by the agriculture sector.”
Saul pointed out that the drought that the area had been experiencing for the last seven years had aggravated the situation and made it difficult to bring the flames under control.
“A recent report, following research on the drought, has shown that this has been one of the worst droughts.”
Referring to calls to have the affected areas declared a disaster, Saul pointed out that parts of the Northern Cape were declared disaster areas earlier this year.
“We will have to consider the extent of the damage caused and the relevant legislation before we can look into whether disaster assistance can be extended in light of the recent fires.
“Once the exact extent and impact of the damage has been determined, we will know what we need to do going forward,” Saul added.