Following the continued incidences of extreme heat and numerous veld fires across the Western Cape, the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, has urged the agriculture sector to take the necessary measures to protect lives, livestock, crops and agricultural infrastructure.
“My first concern is for agri-workers, producers and farmers who are daily exposed to harsh climatic conditions. Climate change is having a dramatic impact on our weather patterns and in extreme conditions poses a threat to the lives of our agri-workers and producers. I urge those working in the agricultural sector to take the necessary steps to minimise the impact of these extremely hot conditions and fires,” said Minister Meyer.
Minister Meyers adds that with the support of the National Government and the South African Weather Services (SAWS), relevant early weather warnings are distributed as and when needed to all stakeholders.
Ms Ashia Petersen, Director: Sustainable Resource Use and Management with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA), provided the following advice on what to do when veld fire conditions are forecast:
“During high fire seasons, the establishment of fire control committees is essential and open-air fires are strictly prohibited. In general, an alarm system, firefighting teams and plans must be prepared in advance to mitigate the impact of a wildfire. It is extremely important to know the contact details of the closest fire/emergency response unit,” remarked Ashia Petersen.
During veld fires, farmers should:
Move livestock to safety and out of grazing land to ploughed fields.
Ms Petersen warns that that during extremely hot conditions animals may suffer heat stress, adding, “Heat stress occurs when an animal is unable to dissipate heat or becomes overwhelmed and the animal’s performance or health suffers as a result.
Heat stress can greatly impact cattle producers through decreased milk production and subsequent calf growth, decreased reproductive performance in livestock and decreased stocker and feeder performance.”
The WCDOA offers the following advice to livestock and crop farmers:
To access the WCDoA’s fact sheets on fire and heat go to https://shorturl.at/cvzE8
Minister Meyer: “The WCDoA recognises the impact of climate change and disasters on the agricultural sector. The increase in both the frequency and intensity of disasters has necessitated the need for the department to focus on disaster risk reduction and mitigation strategies. The department will continue to work closely with District Disaster Management Centres, the Provincial Disaster Management Centre and Organised Agriculture to ensure that farmers receive the necessary support when dealing with disasters,” concluded Minister Meyer.