Eastern Cape communal sheep farmers can look forward to better service thanks to six extra production officers.
According to the National Woolgrowers’ Association (NWGA) the extension officers are a welcome addition to the team in the area. In July last year, only three officers served farmers here.
The officials were appointed by the NWGA and started service on February 1. They form part of the association’s Production Advisory Services.
According to Zithulele Mbatsha, acting manager for training and development, the appointments were a great relief: there was a staff shortage in the vast area where the communal farmers operate, making it difficult to reach them with valuable information regarding sheep management.
The officers will work in Cofimvaba & Tsomo districts, Region 20, Mtatha and Butterworth, Queenstown and King William’s Town as well as Matatiele, Mt Fletcher and Mt Ayliff.
Mbatsha was recently promoted from regional manager at the NWGA to acting manager: Training and Development. He told africanfarming.com he is looking forward to his new role and says a lot of information needs be dispersed to communal farmers. This includes disease information, nutrition and sheep management in general.
He says even though the 2016 drought was very challenging for wool farmers, 2017 is looking better. Wool prices at local auctions are already picking up.
UPLIFTING COMMUNAL WOOL GROWERS
The NWGA, in partnership with among others the Wool Trust, Cape Wools SA, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and the Department of Rural Development & Agrarian Reform (Eastern Cape), have over the past 12 years done extensive work in rural areas in an effort to increase the livelihood of communal growers. The monetary value of communal wool has increased to more than R136 million during this time.
“The NWGA is committed towards the upliftment and development of communal farmers and sees the appointment of these additional production advisors as a step in the right direction of realising the potential growth in revenue for our farmers,” the organisation said in a statement.