Agriculture Climate Community Development

EMA urges veld fires victims to file reports

Veld fire

Writes Marlvin Ngiza

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has urged those who would have been affected by veld fires to report the incidents to relevant authorities saying this was crucial in data collection, reinforcing community education on veld fires prevention and legal steps to be taken.

This follows a veld fire incident that reportedly happened in some farms of Wiltshire, Mashonaland East Province which left some farmers stranded following the destruction caused.

Farmers who confirmed the development to this publication said a veld fire that broke a few days ago was a heartbreaking development to them as it was going to affect their livestock production and the 2023/2024 farming season.

Some of the farmers who spoke to this publication said that they were left without grazing lands and this was going to pose a huge threat as there was a great possibility of losing their cattle due to lack of pastures.

“We are very disturbed by this veld fire. Our farms have been consumed by flames. Although we had done some fireguards, I am sure they were not standard to keep our plots safe. In some farms, only small portions remained unburnt. We are going to face severe shortages of grazing areas for our animals and we are afraid that since we remain with close to three dry months, we may lose our cattle,” he said.

The other farmer said, “Since we also rely on draught power, our next farming season may be affected. We were caught by this fire before we finished our fireguards. Also with the harsh winds we are experiencing in the season, even areas with some fireguards were affected,” she said.

Meanwhile, Environmental Management Agency(EMA) Mashonaland East Provincial Environmental Manager, Juliet Mavu, said that the incident had not yet been reported to their offices while urging residents to go and report the matter so that the agency would be able to ascertain the extent of damage caused.

She added that if cases of veld fires are reported, it would help the agency to intensify educational campaigns on veld fires towards zero tolerance for veld fires in the country.

“I am yet to get information about the veld fire you are referring to. Some cases go unreported so if a report is made, it assists us in knowing the exact location of where the incident occurred, when it occurred, what was lost in general, who caused the fire, and make a joint visit with relevant stakeholders for an assessment.

“We also need to establish what was burnt, the extent of damage, whether any fire prevention measures were put in place if any efforts were made to put out the fire by the affected property owners if the culprit is known. We educate the affected community on fire management. If the culprit is known, he is issued with a ticket or a docket can be opened depending on the damage caused. For example, if crops or livestock were affected, then AGRITEX should make an assessment. If timber was affected, Forestry Commission should assess timber affected,” said Mavu.

The country is currently within the fire restriction period which began on 1 July and is expected to end on 30 November 2023 during which no one is allowed to start a fire outside residential or commercial premises.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende