Veld fires wreaked more havoc in 2021 than ever before.
This, in addition to widespread drought conditions, is a recipe for disaster for many farmers in the Free State, said Free State Agriculture (FSA) commercial manager Jack Armour.
As a result of the fires, grazing veld and fodder is severely limited, exacerbated by drought conditions. Grass and lucerne supply is therefore extremely limited as well, and on the brink of running out.
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Armour said figures until the end of July 2021 showed 340,000 hectares of veld had been destroyed.
If August veld fires in the Boshoff and Healesville areas and veld fires from the beginning of September are added, over 400,000 hectares of veld has so far been destroyed this year alone.
Armour said despite early warnings, weather conditions such as strong, dry winds made it impossible for farmers and firefighters to prevent veld fires.
In some cases, up to 90% of a farm burned down. One incident saw 400 ewes burn to death in a fire. More than 52 farms burned down between Winburg, Ventersburg and Virginia alone.
But affected farmers, who now also face the end of the grass and lucerne season, do not have enough bales to feed the precious livestock they have left.
In response, the FSA has launched an initiative to purchase feed and fodder supplements for the worst-hit areas – but the organisation needs assistance from communities and the business sector.
Anyone who is able to sell their available feed, donate feed or make a monetary contribution can click here to assist.
Compiled by Nica Richards