Veld fires ravage Free State, threaten food security

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Free State Agriculture says veld fires that have ravaged the Free State in recent weeks will affect food security. The fires have caused damage to farms and infrastructure.

There is no grazing grass for cattle. Some farmers have lost their livestock.

The CEO of Free State Agriculture, Jack Armour, says it can take years for a farmer to recover from veld fires.

“When a farm is out of production, that veld can take up to three years to recover again before it can graze properly. And then the farmer has to build up his herd again. It takes the farmer back in his financial situation, on a large count. So when you have these big fires where a lot of farms in a district have totally burned down, the district cannot support them with enough food, with enough grazing to help them and stuff. And then you are forced to reduce your herds. So that’s the main impact on food security.”

Meanwhile, some Free State farmers say veld fires have affected them financially. Various areas in the province have been ravaged by veld fires.

Frustrated farmers have lost grazing land; livestock and infrastructure have also been affected.

These farmers say the fires have slowed production.

“We lose a lot of grazing veld because of the fires, and that affects the food security for the nation. If a farmer doesn’t have veld for his sheep or his cattle, they can’t provide the meat or the products to the market. There have been a lot of veld fires in the surrounding farms around me, and it negatively affects the production of farmers. I mean, if you’re losing your livestock or you are losing your veld, it will negatively affect your production.”