Western Cape tallies agriculture fire damages

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cape Town – The Western Cape provincial government has put the fire damage price tag caused by devastating fires, which ripped through the agricultural sector this year, at just under R200 million.

The provincial Department of Agriculture conducted a survey of 79 farms to assess the impact of the fires, which swept through parts of the province. The estimation was drawn from questionnaires distributed by the department to local farmers.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said damages of R192.3 million were reported in the Hessequa and George regions in the Southern Cape.

“In total, we received feedback from 79 farms. The data shows that infrastructure, crops, livestock, natural vegetation, grazing, fencing and water pipelines have been destroyed,” MEC Winde said.

The information received indicated that about R22 million worth of damages was not covered by insurance, including damage to grazing, fences, pipe lines, watering points for animals and irrigation systems.

The region’s agriculture sector is already under pressure in terms of fodder for grazing due to the ongoing drought gripping the province.

“The fire damage adds to this burden and farmers will have to purchase additional fodder where there has been significant damage to grazing. This will have to continue until the rains start and the veld has recovered. Added to this is the cost of replacing infrastructure such as farm buildings, fences and watering points for animal and irrigation systems,” MEC Winde said.

According to the MEC, the department’s Sustainable Resource Management Programme was allocated R86 million in the current financial year, in part to assist with disaster management in the agriculture sector.

“The Sustainable Resource Management Programme works with farmers to reduce the risk of damage in the case of a disaster. In terms of fires, this includes regular clearing of alien vegetation to limit the spread of fires,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za-TLM

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