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MUTARE: Since inception of the veld fire season, Manicaland province has recorded 54 fire incidences leading to approximately 8 495.67 hectares of land being burnt, NewZimbabwe.com can report.

The veld fire season in Zimbabwe stretches annually from 31 July to 31 October.

However, compared to 2020, the province recorded 23 fire incidences leading to 8 156,72 hectares of land being lost to fire.

As a result, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is conducting a programme aimed at monitoring farms dotted around the province with regards to fire preventative measures that farmers should put in place.

Speaking at a press conference on veld fire management Wednesday in the border city, EMA Manicaland provincial manager, Kingstone Chitotombe said the province registered a 135% increase in fire incidences.

“In this regard the province has already begun a comprehensive farm to farm monitoring programme, starting with Makoni district. The operation is aimed at checking out the status of fire prevention measures such as fire guards in veld fire hot spots and status on compliance to farms that were served with orders,” said.

“It also aimed at fining farmers without fire guards and who committed other fire offences; investigating fire incidences; and raising awareness,” said Chitotombe.

The provincial environmental manager indicated that about 51.3% of all farms and plots monitored had put preventative measures including fire guards.

“Thirty-two tickets were issued to farmers who did not have any fire prevention measures. Eight fire cases were assessed and investigated with the assistance of police.

“This resulted in the opening of three dockets for the cases which had known culprits. Information on fire was disseminated in the form of posters and fliers,” he said.

Chitotombe also noted that due to heavy rains that were received this year, there is extreme biomass even in areas where it used to be low hence Manicaland is highly vulnerable in the 2021 fire season.

“The districts at extreme risk are Makoni, Chipinge, some parts of Chimanimani and Nyanga while all the remaining districts are this time around at high risk to veld fires.

Veld fires have become one of the greatest environmental challenges in Zimbabwe considering their distraction to natural resources, property and human, and wild lives.

According to EMA annually, Zimbabwe loses over a million hectares of forests and grasslands which deprives wildlife and livestock of pastures.

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