By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
There are concerns that veld fire frequency in A1 and A2 farms is relatively high as compared to communal lands hence the need to put deterrent measures and continue to educate the resettled farmers on the need to safeguard their areas against veld fires.
This was heard during the launch of the National Fire Week by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) at Gwebi Agricultural College on Wednesday
Addressing delegates at the launch, Senator Chief Siansali observed that incidences of veld fires are high in A1 and A2 farms and believes that it is because that these areas are not under the jurisdiction of traditional chiefs who fine offenders.
“If you notice veld fires are more pronounced in the farming areas of A1 and A2 compared to communal areas where as traditional leaders we heavily fine offenders who would started veld fires.
“I would like to implore relevant ministries to put up stiffer penalties for those found in these areas without constructing fireguards which can break these veld fires,” Senator Chief Siansali said.
The Binga traditional leader also suggested a competition to honour communities that would have excelled in preventing veld fires.
“To make our communities take responsibility in preventing veld fires I would suggest that a competition be run to recognise provinces ,districts and cascade to wards that would have the frequency of veld fires in their localities controlled,”he added.
Mashonaland West province houses most of the A1 and A2 farms and the Zvimba East legislator Tawanda Tungamirai affirmed that the province tops in veld fire frequencies.
“While we are the best in agricultural production it should be noted that we are the worst in preventing veld fires.
“Each year we battle with high incidences of veld fires,” confirmed the Zvimba East MP .
The guest of honour, Mangaliso Ndlovu, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry revealed that veld fires are now a state concern and there is the need to come up with an effective strategy to deal decisively with the occurrences.
“Veld fires have become an issue of national concern given their wanton destructive nature. Each year, the country loses over a million hectares of forests and grasslands depriving wildlife and livestock of pastures and leaving the country counting losses of property, crops and life.
“My ministry is going to meet with key stakeholders that include traditional leaders, corporates and civic society organization to device ways to reduce these,” Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said.
This year’s national fire week is running under the theme “Veld Fires and Food Security- Protect the harvest” andis meant to raise awareness among communities on the need to prevent veld fires by observing pre-fire suppression measures such as fireguard construction, biomass reduction and early controlled burning.
The event was also graced by the Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka and Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro.