By Tapiwa Machemedze
VELD fires are threatening economic activity in the country’s agro-based economy with stakeholders targeting a 20 percent reduction in fires this season.
Mashonaland Central province launched the provincial fire awareness week in Bindura this Thursday, with various stakeholders pledging to reduce veld fires which destroyed 12 000 hectares in the province last year.
“Being number 3 within the provincial rankings and mount Darwin topping up we are talking all stakeholders on board, with robust engagement law enforcement is also on board, education and awareness taking a major part of what we have been doing, we have many stakeholders that have come through,” said Environmental Management Authority’s Environmental and Publicity Officer, Mr Maxwell Mupotsa.
“We need to provide education and awareness and we need to encourage people to make fire guards,” said Mr Ishmael Chikumba, a representative of Sustainable Forestry Association.
The Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Senator Monica Mavhunga outlined the negative impact of veld fires on the economy.
“Mashonaland Central province heavily depends on farming and mining as the province’s major source of income for most of the communities thus the need to preserve the environment. Degradation of our ecosystem has a direct impact on our food security and economy,” she said.
The province had the 3rd highest number of veld fire cases in the country last year.
Migratory measures to curb the fires will include awareness campaigns, distribution of fire beaters and knap sack sprayers and training of firefighting teams.
The global environment fund has also chipped in with a tractor, lawn mower and hay baler for the province to support grass cutting.