Wool road show highlights importance of sharing information

The recent communal NGWA road show in the Eastern Cape provided valuable information for farmers to enhance their wool farming practices, said the newly elected chairperson of the Communal Wool Growers Association, Lawrence Maduna.

The National Wool Growers Association, in partnership with several role players in the wool industry, went on a weeklong road show to communal farmers in the Eastern Cape to introduce farmers to the complete value chain.

According to Maduna, farmers can now meet wool traders who test and sell wool through an auction system to buyers. In turn, they buy wool for clients in countries like China and Italy.

Official representatives from the wool industry, Cape Wools, the Wool Trust and local production advisors from every region were also present.

“The tour gave farmers a lot of information about wool, the commodity they are dealing in, and showed them how valuable it is.”

Maduna said information on how farmers can improve their wool and increase its value, was very valuable.

Farmers in several regions said they found information on the contamination of wool, as well as insight into wool selling and buying beneficial to their farming practices.

Participants visited all five production regions in the Eastern Cape.

During the show, farmers raised concerns on payment, a lack of infrastructure, better opportunities for training in shearing and sorting their wool, the lack of access to proper genetics and the need for more production information.

Maduna said it is reassuring to see cooperation between farmers at several sheds.

“The shed system brings the communal farmers together, so they can overcome challenges like stock and wool theft.”

Including communal farmers in value chain

The indigenous sheep flocks on communal farming areas in the Eastern Cape are slowly being transformed with the help of Merino genetics. The commercial wool sector is also busy with a ram breeding project to introduce merino wool sheep into communal farmers’ flocks.

The programme aims to remove about 3 000 inferior rams and replacing it with quality stock.

Thanks to the programme, communal wool production increased from 222 610kg (valued at R1.5 million) in 1997/’98 to 4 462 089kg (valued at R234 million) in the 2015/’16 season.

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