South Africa — The fires ravaging the Overberg will have a disastrous effect on the wildflower industry in the region, a flower buyer from the area said on Wednesday.
“It’s devastating to say the least,” said Annemarie Goosen of Honingklip Dry Flowers.
She said the area hit by the fires, which were still burning out of control inland from Gansbaai on Wednesday, was “the main area that I work in”, and that a number of farmers had reported to her that they had been burned out.
“It’s really bad for the industry: it’s really bad news,” she said.
Among the areas affected by the fire was one burned only three years ago, which meant there would be no seed in the veld for regeneration.
“It’s devastating to say the least,” she said.
Among the species that flourished in the area were relatively slow-growing proteas and leucadendrons, which had been “totally burned off” in the areas his by the blaze.
“Proteas started flowering in April and May, so you won’t have any production this year,” she said. “It takes a minimum of five years before it comes back in production, depending on the drought and if you get rain.
“But there there’s no seed in the veld – you won’t have anything coming up.”
There were some farmers who relied totally on the wildflower industry, she said.
Ninety-nine percent of Honingklip’s production went to the export market.
She did not know how many hectares had been burned out.
“People are still trying to kill fires, and telephone lines are off, so it’s very difficult to say.”