Small scale farmers in Klipgat near Ventersdorp and in Boons near Rustenburg are pleading for assistance after about 6 000 hectares of their seven farms were burned by wildfires.
This comes just two weeks before the harvesting season.
After a year of good rains, they were hopeful for good produce, but most of it has gone up in smoke.
The farmers say they watched helplessly as their 5 000 hectares of grazing land and another 1 000 hectares of their crop farms were in a blaze.
Forty-nine-year-old Kenneth Mathope has been a crop farmer for the past 15 years.
“I have never seen such amount of fire in the past 15 years of my life as a farmer. I have never seen fire burning at that rage. The Fire department was here and they tried to put out the fire, but we could not. We have really lost a lot. I have lost 200 hectares of maize.”
Thirty-nine-year-old Itumeleng Taje, who’s been a farmer for the past 20 years, says more than 1 000 hectares of his farms have burned.
Another challenge he now faces is how he will feed his cattle as his grazing land has also burned.
“I don’t know where to start or where to go and I have my own debts to pay. I owe Panara, Pioneer, I have to pay technicians and my workers here at the farm. I do not have anything. I do not have any income. Here is my income. I am pleading to government to bring some help. Also, I have lost 600 hectors of grazing. It is burned. It is a lot of damage. I do not know where to start. I need help. Please help.”
The farmers say they’ve collectively incurred losses worth over R7 million.
For the farmworkers, this may mean no income for the rest of 2020.
“He has to pay us after harvest because all the time when he harvests, there is a bonus that we get. So, where are we going to get that bonus? It is very frustrating because we have to go to support our families,” says farmworker, Mpho Mabidikane.
The farmers are within the North West’s maize triangle, making them one of the largest maize producers in the province. The farmers are pleading to good samaritans for assistance.
In the video below, Klipgat small-scale farmers plead for assistance following wildfires: