Namibia –– OSHAKATI The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) is concerned about the increasing number of veld fires across the country and called on the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to convene a national workshop to address the issue.
Commenting on recent fires especially south of the veterinary cordon fence or Red Line, the NNFU Executive Director, Olof Munjanu, stressed the need for co-ordinated efforts to deal with veld fires.
Efforts in fighting veld fires in the country are hampered by a lack of co-ordination between government, stakeholders and farmers. Something similar to the flood emergency coordination process should be established, Munjanu told New Era this week. He was critical of the fact that farmers and those living in rural areas, unlike town councils, are not always equipped with fire-fighting equipment. He especially singled out villages in the south.
It is the responsibility of every Namibian to prevent veld fires. If theyre aware of a veld fire in an area, they must inform the nearest police and fire brigade and try to extinguish it.
We believe the agriculture sector and local, provincial and national government can work together in organising forums.
They can discuss the possibilities of veld fires in their respective regions and how to fight them. As a team, they can work together to train people in fighting fires and to prepare firebreaks, Munjanu said.
To help the country improve or develop more effective strategies to improve veld fire awareness, the NNFU among others called for a national platform or workshop with other partners, to raise awareness and to train farmers how to prevent and fight veld fires.
Munjanu further said that veld fires caused by people impact farming negatively both in commercial and communal areas and further warned the public not to burn garbage on hot or windy days, since fires can spread easily and quickly and cause damage.
He said veld fires can be caused naturally by lightning, but often they are caused on purpose or accidentally by people.
We have to engage communities in the fight against veld fires through awareness campaigns and training. In fact, through such programmes we are encouraging communities to set up standard fire-guards, he said.
Huge tracts of pasture especially in the Witvlei and Tsumkwe areas, as well as some valuable grazing land in the south, have suffered devastating veld fires in recent months.