Letšeng Diamonds empowers farmers

MOKHOTLONG — Wool and mohair farmers in Mokhotlong say they expect to increase production from the current three million to 10 million tonnes after they received basic training in livestock health procedures.

The 26 farmers finished a two-week training course which was funded by Letšeng Diamonds last Wednesday.

Tšeliso Atontši, the chairperson for the Mokhotlong Wool and Mohair Grower Association, said the training programme is set to boost farmers in the district.

Letšeng Diamonds financed the training programme following a request by the farmers that they be trained as community veterinary assistants.

“You are now trained as community vets and we expect our livestock to be healthier than before so that we can be able to reach our new target,” Antotši said.

He said they expected each farmer to improve production from the current three kilogrammes to five kilogrammes of wool per sheep.

“In the past we were producing wool and mohair at the rate of three kg per animal and this year’s new target is five kilogrammes,” Antotši said.

“Now that you have been trained and can help us look after our livestock, we need to produce more quality and quantity.”

He said wool and mohair farmers throughout the country had set a target of producing 10 million kg this year.

At present the farmers are producing three million kilogrammes a year.

“There are some people who want to help us by processing our products in the country. But it is going to be just too expensive for them if we continue to produce only three million kg per year.

“They have said it can make more business sense and be profitable if the country at least produces 10 million kg each year,” Antotši said.

Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Lethola Leotla said with the new knowledge they now expected to improve wool and mohair production.

“We need to start caring for our livestock and producing wool and mohair in both quality and quantity,” Leotla said.

He said they were grateful for the assistance they had received from Letšeng as it would help them achieve their production targets.

 “We thought you (Letšeng) were just passing by but you are now one of us because you’ve given us a treasure that will always be among us even if you leave,” Leotla said.

Letšeng Diamonds’ corporate social responsibility and investments administrator, Tšepo Hlojeng, said his company is keen to help sustainable projects.

“We studied your needs and decided to get involved to help in developing the community,” Hlojeng said.

“The community projects that the mine is involved with must be able to exist even if the mine closes after 10 years and this project is one of them.”

Hlojeng said the project got the nod from the administration because the community of Mokhotlong said they were desperate to acquire skills in treating and caring for their livestock.

“You told us that you wanted us to focus on wool and mohair because it is your source of life and you are already earning a living through it,” Hlojeng said.

He added that the mine would now focus on providing farmers with entrepreneurship skills so that they can be able to form businesses.

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