• December 6th, 2020

Opinion - Natural fire can be a good tool and also be bad ignition

Mother Nature is a God creation. It is created to serve as the repository of our life in terms of the provision of various natural commodities that cement our human daily life needs. These resources commodities, include but are not limited to soil, natural vegetation, water, air, shelters, food and grazing, among many other commodities. 
“Agri-evironmentalist, farmer and conservationist – Mother Nature is the only livelihood mirror we have. We need to ensure its sustainability for future generations whilst maximising our present benefits.” - Vetuundja U. Kazapua. Important for this script are the conservation, protection and sustainable utilization of either single and or a combination of multiple forest resources such as grazing and rangeland, shelter materials, wood and charcoal production, to mention but a few. 

In addition, Mother Nature also provides intrinsic environmental values and services as well as economic prosperity. Whilst we enjoy the best from nature, challenges also appear alongside these benefits. The challenges can be both agricultural and environmental in nature. The long dry spell since 2013 that continuously adversely affected farming livelihood activities led to depleted grazing, decreased livestock marketing prices and a high number of livestock loss. 
On the environmental side challenges are that of an unfavourable climatic phenomenon – sporadic and a decline in rainfall patterns, drought, food insecurity, unwanted veld fires, floods and so on. 

Having the above, the 2018/2019 rainy season injected farmers with a renewed hope for farming, because of profuse rainfall received during the period. Natural vegetation responded very promisingly, rangeland improved and livestock conditions also recovered. Despite the unexpected coronavirus pandemic outbreak that overwhelms the world, the good rainy season upwards trickle effects were a stable to reasonable increase in livestock marketing prices in the farming industry. It is always said that every coin has two sides, thus, the renewed livelihood for farmers. On the contrary, now that the rain provided a good natural resources base including abundant biomass in most of the areas across the country, fire phenomenon is slowly becoming a challenge in the farming areas.
 Therefore, a stern warning to farmers to be extra cautious for fire outbreaks. It should be well noted that veld fire occurrence can be natural and or man-made. 
Fire isn’t a bad thing if applied rightly and for a good purpose and by well-planned coordinated efforts, but might get out of hand and destroy forests, infrastructures and lives, if its application lacks collective coordination. Periodically, ignited fire started to be visible across the country. Examples of this are veld fires in Aminuis, Otjozondjupa, some parts of the northern communal areas, fire in Twaloloka informal settlement area. To remember is that fire knows no boundary neither does it know its igniting purpose, thus, when started it goes.  

By observation, the country is blessed with abundant biomass but too divergently livestock numbers decrease due to various reasons such as high numbers of livestock marketed and exported, and loss due to devastated drought, increasing thefts and diseases. 
Consequently, the high volume of grasses in most parts of the country that can easily fuel fire outbreaks coupled with wind speed for August posed a danger to farmers’ lives and grazing. The grazing may be lost due to uncontrolled fire which also may adversely impact people and livestock lives. 
Towards my conclusion allow me to mention these few as contributors of fire ignition: Natural: Ignition by lightning and other natural causes.  
Man-made: Ignorance, clearing of agricultural fields, making fire breaks using fire as a tool, production of droppers and poles, charcoal production, smokers as well as unattended candles and oil lamps, and unattended fire during winters. 

As precautions, farmers are advised to take extra measures, inter alia, stocking numerous firefighting equipment, having dedicated human resource teams for unforeseen circumstances to fight unforeseen fire occurrence; a coordinated transport system to respond to emergencies; making fire cut lines or breaks to provide access ways to handle fire occurrence;  collaboration and creation of emergency response mechanisms with the Directorate of Forestry and related stakeholders such as the Ministry of Defence and that of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, farmers, traditional leaders and communities, and non-governmental organizations – all of them to provide synergy in fire control and management.  

I am, therefore, humbly appealing to the Directorate of Forestry within the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to put coordinated teams of experts and farmers to be ready for firefighting purposes, timeously avail resources, provide basic training to communities and farmers, sensitize communities on the impact of fire and the need to volunteer themselves when the call is made. 

Staff Reporter
2020-09-25 10:40:43 | 2 months ago

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