CAPE TOWN, The government of South Africa’s Western Cape province has estimated the damage caused by devastating fires, which ripped through agricultural lands there this year at just under 200 million Rand (about 14.8 million US dollars).
The provincial department of agriculture conducted a survey of 79 farms to assess the impact of the fires, which swept through parts of the province. The estimation was drawn from questionnaires distributed by the department to local farmers.
Western Cape Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said Thursday that damage totalling 192.3 million Rand was reported in the Hessequa and George regions in the Southern Cape area.
“In total, we received feedback from 79 farms. The data shows that infrastructure, crops, livestock, natural vegetation, grazing, fencing and water pipelines have been destroyed,” Winde said.
The information received indicated that about 22 million Rand worth of damage was not covered by insurance, including damage to grazing, fences, pipelines, watering points for animals and irrigation systems.
The region’s agriculture sector is already under pressure in terms of insufficient fodder for grazing because of the ongoing drought gripping the province.
“The fire damage adds to this burden and farmers will have to purchase additional fodder where there has been significant damage to grazing. This will have to continue until the rains start and the veld has recovered. Added to this is the cost of replacing infrastructure such as farm buildings, fences and watering points for animal and irrigation systems,” he said.
According to Winde, the department’s Sustainable Resource Management Programme was allocated 86 million Rand in the current financial year, in part to assist with disaster management in the agriculture sector. “The Sustainable Resource Management Programme works with farmers to reduce the risk of damage in the case of a disaster. In terms of fires, this includes regular clearing of alien vegetation to limit the spread of fires,” he said.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK