Lockdown delays mohair shearing season

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Bereng Mpaki

THE ongoing national lockdown could spell doom for local mohair farmers as they have been barred from shearing their animals until 21 April 2020.

The farmers say if they fail to shear their animals before the end of May 2020, then some of their animals may miscarry as they would be unable to adjust to Lesotho’s punishing colds.

Lesotho’s winter is at its peak in June and July and the farmers fear that the ongoing lockdown may scuttle their plans.

The government last month declared a 21-day national lockdown ending on 21 April in an effort to keep the Coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic at bay. So far, Lesotho is yet to record any cases but neighbouring South Africa has so far recorded 13 deaths and over 1 700 cases. Globally, it has killed over 80 000 people while infections are nearly 1.5 million.

The lockdown was imposed on all non-essential economic players and mohair farmers fall in this category.

Normally, the farmers start shearing their animals in April until May. If they go beyond May, there is a high chance that their breeding would be affected and some of their animals may even miscarry as they try to adjust to with extreme colds of Lesotho.

If the goats are sheared early, they have enough time to grow new mohair while also adjusting to the progressing winter.

Chairperson of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA), Mokuenihi Thinyane said the farmers fear that they could encounter losses if they fail to shear all their goats within the normal shearing season.

“We are unable to shear goats during the lockdown and will have to wait until it is over,” Mr Thinyane said.

“The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security (Litšoane Litšoane) has told us to wait for the lockdown to end.

“If the lockdown was to be extended and we continue to shear our animals afterwards; then our animals may have miscarriages due to the colds. It is not wise to shear goats very close to June, the peak of the winter season, because once it becomes too cold, then the animals will miscarry.

“If it comes to that, we may need to approach the government to permit us to start shearing but bearing in mind the recommended safety protocols to avoid COVID-19 infections.”

He also expressed worry that they are failing to import medicines that they require to treat their sick animals.

“We buy medical supplies for our small stock in South Africa and right now it is impossible to access those supplies because of the lockdown,” Mr Thinyane said.

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