The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has revealed that 89% of the country is lying in the high to extreme high risk to veld fires, compared to a mere 34% in 2020.
The agency says that that areas that are traditionally not prone to veld fires are at risk this year due to increased biomass as a result of the good rains received this season.
According to the agency’s Environmental Education and Publicity Manager Amkela Sidange, they have embarked on an extensive education and awareness programme to sensitize communities on veld fire management in an effort to prevent veld fires and protect lives, property and the environment as well as the bumper harvest the country is looking forward to during this 2020/21 farming season.
“Teams made up of EMA officers are on the ground working with relevant stakeholders in sensitizing communities on veld fire management. The programme is targeting both farm and village level so as to reach out to all land owners and users.
“Some of the areas that have been accessed since the beginning of the programme include Chikomba in Mashonaland East, Makonde, Zvimba and Chegutu in Mashonaland West, Binga and Hwange in Matabeleland North, Makoni and Nyanga as well as over 1000 farmers accessed at tobacco auction floors in Manicaland.
“The programme will be spreading to all over the country in the coming weeks leading to the national fire week launch, set aside for the second week of May, and thereafter up to the onset of the fire season on the 31st of July,” she said.
She added that the thrust of the programme is to build capacity among farmers, landowners and users on fire management strategies such as fireguard construction, biomass reduction through hay baling and thatch grass harvesting; as well as training and equipping of fire committees.
“During the same programme, farmers, landowners and users are being served with environmental protection orders, to remind and compel them to construct fire guards around their properties before the onset of the fire season.
“The clarion call to all farmers, land owners and users is to take the advice given by technocrats and leaders, use it effectively towards putting in place all measures relevant in preventing veld fires, so that crops, pastures for livestock, property and lives are protected,” she said.
Meanwhile, the agency is also assisting communities in biomass reduction projects through hay baling and thatch grass combing in fire prone areas. However, there is still calls for more partnerships from both the public and private players in an endeavor to prevent veld fires and losses associated with the veld fire scourge in the country. Veld fire prevention is a key action item in the NDS1, and also a key enabler in achieving Vision 2030.