A Somabhula farmer has said he is stressed after his three brand new tractors and other equipment bought in February this year were destroyed by veld fire on Wednesday last week.
John Makhaya Masuku (37) said the three tractors landed at a combined cost of US$57 000 and a baler at US$9 000.
Already the equipment had done 14 000 hay bales valued at US$21 000, which he was selling at US$1.50 each. Masuku spoke to the Chronicle about his loss:
Kunzima ndoda ukulandisa sile stress esinzima hey indaba yakhona inde kakhulu (It’s difficult to narrate what happened. I’m stressed. It’s a long story).
I bought these three tractors for US$57 000. The two huge 75 HP came at a cost of US$45 000 and the small one for US$12 000. There was also a baler at US$9 000. So, the cost of the new equipment was US$66 000. Already the equipment had done 14 000 hay bales which I was selling at US$1,50 each.
We were making hay bales in preparation for the farming season. The major customers for these are dairy farmers. Then it so happened that our farm workers got paid at the end of the month and they left the project site unattended, parked the tractors side by side with the hay bales, a huge pile stock of about 14 000 bales, covered with a canvas tent.
He said a fire broke out and there was no one to control it as the employees were all away “enjoying their salaries.”
Masuku appealed for assistance from farmers around the Somabhula area in terms of tilling the land so that he prepares the land for the coming cropping season.
He also appealed to the government to help him replace the farm equipment.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Midlands provincial spokesperson Mr Oswald Ndlovu said from July 31, Midlands province has lost about 8 500 hectares to veld fires.
In 2021, veld fires destroyed 408 366 hectares of land up from 778 hectares the previous year.
Veld fire is triggered by people who:
i).throw away burning cigarette stubs,
ii). burn vegetation to prepare land for ploughing,
iii). use fires to hunt or smoke out bees.
iv). make fires to warm themselves while waiting for buses and also leave without putting out the fire.