WOOL and mohair farmers are set to finally have a storage facility for their wares after their association purchased a site in Thaba Bosiu with construction scheduled for 2018.
According to Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) President Mokuenihi Thinyane, they recently purchased a site where, upon construction, wool and mohair from around the country would be stored and prepared before being exported for sale.
Currently the farmers, who rear merino sheep and angora goats, use the Livestock Products Marketing Services (LPMS) storage facilities before the wool and mohair is taken to Port Elizabeth, South Africa for export to various countries in Europe.
Some of the wool and mohair returns to Lesotho as finished products such as Basotho traditional blankets which consist of 50 percent wool.
The wool and mohair industry has been steadily growing over the years, generating revenue of M330 million in the 2015/16 financial year, up from M250 million in the 2014/15 financial year.
Mr Thinyane said they could no longer continue using the LPMS facility since it had been acquired by railway operators.
“As a result, we were advised to look for an alternative place for storing our products.”
“We have secured a site where we intend to build a wool centre in Thaba Bosiu. The site has already been paid for, and the next step for us is to raise the necessary funds to begin construction,” he said, adding the association paid M1.4 million for the site.
“We need to raise a lot of money for construction which we expect will begin in 2018. Financial assistance from investors is also welcome.”
Mr Thinyane said the centre would reduce the expenses farmers incurred in transporting and selling their products in Port Elizabeth while also creating jobs for locals.
“We are currently spending millions in transporting and preparing the coats for export as we have hired (South African firm) BKB to facilitate those processes on our behalf.
“Once we have the storage centre in the country, some of the processes would be carried out in Lesotho, enabling us to save money.
“We would also be able to create jobs for our people in giving them work that would otherwise be carried out at the coast.”
Mr Thinyane also pointed out that the establishment of the wool centre would enable the setting up of a wool scouring facility which had not materialised for many years. Scouring involves the use of hot water and detergents to remove soil, vegetable impurities, grease and other contaminants from wool fibres.
“We think the successful establishment of the wool centre will bring us closer to a scouring facility in Lesotho. Such a facility would enable the processing of the products and even weaving. So, we have reason to believe that once we have the wool storage in place, a souring facility will not be far off,” he added.