The Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) recently took over the operation of the Mokhotlong Sheep Breeding Centre Sheep (Stud).
This formally took place on 25 October 2018 in Mokhotlong upon the signing of a sub-lease agreement between the Ministry Agriculture and Food Security and the LNWMGA.
Acting principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and food security, Motebang Pomela and chairperson of the LNWMGA, Mokuenihi Thinyane signed the agreement, which effectively transfers the operationalisation of the centre to this representative group of more than 31 000 producers of wool and mohair in Lesotho.
This is the second breeding centre that the government has availed for the benefit of farmers under the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP). The first centre is situated in Quthing and was handed over more than a year ago.
WAMPP will run for seven years and is scheduled to end in 2022. Broken down into three complementary components, the project addresses challenges in the wool and mohair value chain, specifically in: Rangeland Management, Merino sheep and Angora goat Production and Management and Wool and Mohair Processing and Marketing.
The transfer of breeding centres to farmers is one of the activities under the second component (Improved Merino Sheep and Angora goats Production and Management) where focus is on: improved nutrition, breeding and animal health.
The Wool and Mohair sub-sector is estimated to provide and support livelihoods of more than 100 000 households directly. The WAMPP aims at reaching 50,000 households. The project will assist wool and mohair producers to lessen negative effects of climate change on their production of fibre.
The country’s communal rangelands serve as the primary source of feeding for most farmers. WAMPP will inculcate a culture of supplementary feeding by conducting fodder demonstrations in all the agro-ecological zones of Lesotho.
Working in conjunction with the National University of Lesotho, research studies will be conducted to test the best types of fodder to grow in each zone (Highlands, Senqu Valley, Foothills, Lowlands).
The Quthing Sheep Stud received its first flock of nine rams and 300 ewes in September 2017. The centre already boasts of more than 100 lambs which were all born in the current lambing season. It is envisaged that the revival of the Mokhotlong Sheep Stud will greatly benefit from lessons learned in Quthing — thus expediting the National Breeding Programme for Merino Sheep and Angora Goats (NBPMA).
The centre will also be rehabilitated and will receive its first flock of rams and ewes, bucks and does, once preparatory work has been completed. Successful operation of the two breeding centres will contribute to improvement of the genetic value of local flocks. This, in turn, will reduce the dependence of local producers on importation of quality animals from South Africa.
The Wool and Mohair Promotion Project is funded by the government, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Adaptation for Smallholder Agricultural Programme (ASAP) the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the LNWMGA.