Unpaid wool and mohair farmers going for fifth year


. . . Thinyane says stress has taken toll on mental healths


MASERU – An unspecified number of Basotho wool and mohair farmers remains unpaid since 2019. Public Eye lastweek spoke at length with the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) Chairperson, Mokoenehi Thinyane, who said since 2019 some Basotho farmers have still not been paid by the Lesotho Wool and Mohair Centre in Thaba-Bosiu which was owned by the Chinese national Stone Shi’s Maseru Dawning Trading as well as the government.

He, however, could not commit to giving the number of the farmers as he was still caught up with other business but promised to check the number and share by this week.He said the association tried to intervene in the issue but were told that they have no power to do so. Although the purpose of the centre was to assist Basotho gain more money through their wool and mohair, he said, that did not work for them as they are still owed some money to date for their wool and mohair.

He gave an example of one farmer in the Mokhotlong district who lost his mind because he was owed for his wool and mohair products and desperately needed the money. Reports in the public domain show that a total of 1 169 farmers are still owed about M11, 650, 682 by the government for 2018/2019.

Lesotho Wool and Mohair industry generates just under M2 billion annually and employs thousands of Basotho. Wool and mohair is the fourth biggest industry after water, diamonds and textiles and garments.  Meanwhile on Wednesday this week, Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) hosted the eighth auction of rams, ewes and doe(s) of wool and mohair where Basotho farmers came in numbers.

Thinyane said the most expensive doe auctioned was worth M30 000 and belongs to a Leribe farmer.  He also said that in May this year, they will conduct another auction but this time around rams will not be included. A sponsor gave away a ram worth M10 000 to a lucky winner, a farmer from the Leribe district, in a raffle conducted at the event this week.

The Minister of agriculture, food security and nutrition Thabo Mofosi said the purpose of the auction is to improve production of wool and mohair in the country, and increase employment in a sector which employs 40 000 Basotho through the wool and mohair association. Mofosi said this should improve the economy of the country as well as assist farmers in minimising the costs of going to South Africa.

He said wool and mohair is one sector that contributes significantly to the economy of the country. He said since the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP) came to an end, there is going to be a new project introduced called the Wool and Mohair Value Competitiveness Project (WAMCoP) sometime this year.

The project is intended for the wool and mohair production in general as well as products made from wool and mohair. “About 70 rams, 150 ewes and 17 does were bought for the auction. My recommendation to Basotho farmers is to produce wool and mohair as per the required wool and mohair standards. I urge Basotho to collaborate for the improvement of wool and mohair in the country,” he said. 

For over 80 years, wool and mohair sales have provided Lesotho with its largest exports and with its largest domestically-generated sources of income. Presently, fleeces are marketed through any of three outlets: private traders, a government-sponsored marketing service, or, illegally, through smugglers.

With the exception of some of the smugglers’ purchases, all of the wool and mohair is sold on world markets through a South African farmers’ marketing co-operative under the auspices of the South African Wool and Mohair Boards.

The proportion of the portion which is marketed through each outlet varies from year to year depending on world prices and on the relative effectiveness of the outlets in responding to stockowners’ marketing needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *