New shearing sheds nearing completion

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Bereng Mpaki

CONSTRUCTION of 21 new wool and mohair shearing sheds around the country is nearing completion while 43 existing sheds are also being upgraded.

The sheds are expected to be complete in September this year.

The infrastructural works are being implemented by the government under the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP). WAMPP is a seven-year project being implemented in collaboration with international and domestic partners.

WAMPP knowledge management officer, Phomolo Lebotsa, told the Lesotho Times this week that other projects under WAMPP include rangeland management and a national breeding programme for angora goats and merino sheep.

WAMPP is financed by the government, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Project (ASAP), the OPEC Fund for Agricultural Development (OFID) and the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers’ Association (LNWMGA). It ends in 2022.

Mr Lebotsa said the improved shearing sheds would, among other things, have water and electricity connections that would maximise efficient shearing while also benefiting the neighbouring communities.

“The shearing sheds will facilitate two key processes, namely shearing and classing of wool or mohair,” Mr Lebotsa said.

“The concomitant record-keeping is vital as it influences how quickly farmers get paid for their fibre.”

The new sheds would largely benefit small stock farmers who would now have shearing facilities closer to them.

“The objective is to minimise the distance travelled to the closest shed. The newly-constructed shearing sheds are spread across all 10 districts of the country and will thus provide the much-needed capacity and improved access to farmers.”

WAMMP has constructed sandstone drinking troughs at 33 shearing sheds and erected standpipes for potable water. Clean water is essential as it improves the quality of the fibre produced.

Electric shears reduce shearing time. Other electrical equipment including bale presses, weighing scales also introduce accuracy while saving time. Towards this end, the project has invested over M2 Million to procure equipment.

Mr Lebotsa said the shearing sheds were located in different areas including Qholaqhoe in Butha-Buthe; Mallane and Lipetu in Leribe; Boreipala and Kubake in Maseru; Thuathe in Berea; Heremone and Ha-Ntsibane in Mafeteng; Phamong, Hloahloeng and Maphutseng in Mohale’s Hoek; Seforong and Ha-Mafura in Quthing; Mohlapiso in Qacha’s Nek; Litsoetse, Semena and Ha-Soai in Thaba-Tseka; and Ha-Meno and Semenanyane in Mokhotlong.

WAMPP has thus far spent M25 million on infrastructural works including water connections to existing shearing sheds from boreholes and springs. The budget also includes the construction of two slaughter slabs in Butha-Buthe and Quthing.

The rangeland project is in support of the Ministry of Forestry Range and Soil Conservation’s push for legislation to govern and regulate use and management of rangelands.

Mr Lebotsa said effective management of rangelands was the cornerstone of Lesotho’s rural economy as they provided the primary feeding for stock.

The breeding programme for angora goats and merino sheep entails the revival of two breeding centres in Quthing and Mokhotlong – a key step in the formation of a national elite flock (NEF). The project held the first auction of rams in Lesotho (following a long hiatus) in January 2020, where 67 rams were auctioned.

It also entails the identification and certification of private commercial breeding farms or ram breeders, which is to be initiated in the current financial year. The farms will act as multiplying facilities for the supply of rams and bucks to smallholder farmers country-wide.

It will also act as a culling and exchange programme incentivising farmers to reduce their herds by culling low-yielding breeds. This has been piloted in Mafeteng and will now be rolled out country-wide with Berea and Mokhotlong as the next destination districts.

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