THE government is implementing the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP) with financial support from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA).
The goal of the project is to boost economic and climate resilience of poor, smallholder wool and mohair producers to adverse effects of climate change in the mountain and foothill regions of Lesotho.
The Project is coordinated by the Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing Ministry. It is jointly implemented by the Forestry, Rangelands and Soil Conservation ministry as well as the LNWMGA.
The project consists of three components to be implemented over seven years;
- climate smart rangelands management,
- improved livestock production and management and
- wool and mohair processing and marketing.
The wool and mohair processing and marketing component of the project is being implemented by the department of marketing in the Agriculture ministry.
Among others, the component is tasked with facilitating the disposal of unproductive animals from the rangelands and to promote diversification into the development of the red meat industry.
Wool and mohair smallholder farmers have predominantly depended on income from sales of fibre, neglecting other products of value accruing from rearing of sheep and goats.
In the absence of organised and reliable markets, there has been minimal incentive for rearing livestock for meat production.
The lack of organised markets and associated marketing infrastructure impedes progress the culling of off-type sheep and goats and developing the red meat industry and other associated industries thereof, more especially the hides and skins and leather sub-sector.
As a consequence, farmers were not convinced of the profitability of keeping livestock primarily for meat production.
These setbacks hinder producers from engaging in meat enterprises and compete in various domestic and export meat markets. The lack of marketing infrastructure also promotes importation of red meat for consumption in the local meat markets.
Indeed; a huge percentage of agricultural commodities, including red meat traded locally; are imported from South Africa because of their organised value chains.
It is therefore, imperative to put in place measures to develop the red meat industry to overcome dependency of income generation from fibre only as the livestock sector has the enormous potential and significance in poverty alleviation. Income generation from meat can supplement and even exceed the income generated from wool although not necessarily more than that from mohair. A profitable and sustainable disposal system of culled animals is crucial for solving the current rangeland degradation.
It is for this reason why WAMPP has started the culling and exchange programme, the objective being to provide an incentive mechanism to smallholder farmers who are willing to start the process of reducing the number of unproductive animals and replacing them with high yielding stock. The success of this activity depends on effectiveness of livestock auctioneering and slaughtering facilities. As such several livestock auctions facilitated by the department of marketing have already taken place in Mafeteng, Berea, Mokhotlong, Butha-Buthe, Mohale’s Hoek and Maseru where 3408 animals were auctioned generating M2 048 562.
WAMPP is also supporting the department of marketing in rehabilitating selected auction yards namely Ketane, Mphaki, Makhoroana and Butha-Buthe for continued running of the auction sales. Mobile auctioneering equipment has been procured for conduction of auctions in strategic areas.
The long-term plan is to hand-over the function to private operators to curb the unemployment rate and to realise profitability and sustainability of the initiative. The ultimate goal is opening up and accommodating all other sheep, goats and cattle instead of restricting the auctions to culled animals only.
In addition, the construction of slaughter slabs in the southern and northern districts of Quthing and Butha-Buthe is at an advanced stage to develop the red meat value chain. The management and operationalisation of the facilities will be handed over to private entities once completed.