Communal wool project improving lives of thousands in SA’s Eastern Cape

The National Wool Growers’ Association of South Africa is making an invaluable contribution to communal areas in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

The role the NWGA played in improving wool production in communal areas over the past 20 years was explained during the sixth congress for Eastern Cape communal farmers in Dutywa. About 1 000 farmers attended the event.

In his address, chairman Lawrence Maduna said the association consists of about 27 000 communal members who own 4 million sheep, producing 6 million kilograms of wool – or 13% of the national clip.

Poverty alleviation

According to Maduna, the communal farmers support roughly 180 000 family members.

“The number of children who are hungry decreased from 41% to 24%. About 84% now have savings accounts and only 48% of parents farming with wool sheep, need to borrow money for their children’s education.”

He appealed to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to extend the contract for the genetic improvement of the communal herd and help with the building of shearing houses for another five years.

During the congress, National Chairman of the NWGA Guillau du Toit encouraged farmers to sell wool through the formal market, rather than to informal traders.

He said farmers should pay more attention to wool classing and avoid wool contamination as much as possible, since South Africa’s reputation is at stake when communal wool is exported.

Ram project

Since 2002, the NWGA made about 45 000 superior rams available to farmers through mediation. As a result, wool production increased from 223 000 kilograms to 5.7 million kilograms worth an estimated R300 million in the past season.

Maduna said farmers in the region mainly struggle with issues like livestock and wool theft, predators, stray dogs, bio-security, climate change and inadequate fencing.

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