Government has reminded farmers that it is still an offence to be found without a fireguard during the fire season.
This was said by the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon Nqobizitha Ndhlovu In Zvimba district, Mashonaland West where he was launching the National Fire Week with the theme, Veld Fires and Food Security- Protect the harvest.
Every year, the second week of May is set aside for education and awareness raising on the dangers associated with veld fires.
Minister Ndhlovu urged authorities to continue raising awareness concerning the issue of veld fires and arresting those that are not complacent.
“To our farmers and all other property owners, as we approach the dry season ahead, this is the time to ensure that your farms and properties are protected by standard nine (9) metre fire guards on either side of a boundary fence making a total of 18m. It remains a punishable offence to be found without a fireguard during the fire season.
“Government Ministries and Departments have to mainstream veld fire issues into all their programmes. Those responsible for policing the legislation on veld fires which include, ZRP, EMA, Forestry Commission, Local Authorities and traditional leaders, are implored to continue raising awareness in all the corners of the country and also enforcing the law.” He said.
According to reports, the annual average burnt area from 2010 – 2020 was 1 million hectares. An average of 60% of the total burnt area has been under the A1 and A2 resettlement areas.
The Minister of Environment said, “of the 18,000 A2 farmers, only about 400 have 99 year leases, which leases have specific clauses on environmental protection. This creates a possibility of massive information gap on the responsibilities of farmers in their properties.”
Furthermore, Minister Ndhlovu stressed the need for every farmer to construct fireguards so as to avoid fire related deaths.
“It is in this regard that we have already begun a comprehensive awareness programme with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement through their agritex extension services. Every farmer is expected to construct their fireguard in compliance with the laws of our country
Over the past 10 years veld fires have led to over 100 fire related deaths. This is too big a figure to ignore. No life should be lost to veld fires because one life lost is one too many. Life is precious and hence we should thrive as a country to prevent loss of life.” He added.
Also present during the launch was Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Hon. M Mliswa- Chikoka, Senator Chief Siansali, Chief Beperere, Member of Parliament for Zvimba East, Hon T Tungamirai and Chief Zvimba among other dignitaries.