Devastating veld fires a serious concern for agriculture

The veld fires in July, August and September this year caused enormous devastation in the Northern Cape, Free State and North West.

It is estimated that more than 270 000 hectares were destroyed by fire in the Northern Cape, while more than 52 farms were destroyed in the Free State. One farmer lost 90% of his 1 000 ha farm, including 400 ewes in lamb.

“In North West, fire destroyed approximately 500 000 hectares within four months,” says Andrea Campher Agri SA’s Risk and Disaster Manager. “This amounts to about 5% of total land in the province. Agri SA, via its structures, is in the process of assessing the damage, but is concerned that the challenges on the ground are much greater than the information at our disposal.”

Dry and strong winds during the past few weeks have created ideal conditions for run-away fires. “The extent of the damage is such that, should the affected districts be declared disaster areas, the state would not have the capacity of assist farmers,” says Campher. “Given bureaucratic red tape, it will be impossible to provide disaster relief in time because state resources are under pressure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and drought aid that is currently being rolled out in terms of the prevailing drought disaster declaration.”

Demand for roughage is already under pressure due to feed aid provided to drought-stricken areas. “We are also nearing the end of the roughage season,” says Willem Symington, Chairman of Agri SA’s Natural Resources Centre of Excellence.

Agri SA is encouraging the public to contribute to the organisation’s disaster relief fund, which is managed by the Agri SA Disaster Relief Foundation. “Donors also qualify for a section 18(A) certificate. Funds will be used specifically for the purchase of stock feed, transportation costs and infrastructure such as fencing to safeguard livestock,” Campher assures.

Please use the following bank account to donate:

Agri SA ABSA Account: Cheque Account number: 4068540775 Branch code: 632005 Reference: Fire Aid Email proof of payment to


Andrea Campher Agri SA Risk and Disaster Manager (C) 079 887 2174

Willem Symington Chairman of Agri SA’s Natural Resources Centre of Excellence (C) 084 592 7474