The Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Communal Wool Growers Association, Lawrence Maduna, says he aims to turn around Region 20 to eventually produce high quality wool. It is currently the worst performing region in the communal areas of South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
Maduna says the area, which covers the larger Transkei area, faces several challenges to produce wool for the commercial market.
“We have very few sheds in the region and that is a big problem, especially with contamination, which lowers the value of wool. Farmers also have shortages of equipment like sorting tables and presses to process and sort their wool for buyers.”
Maduna says he wants to help improve the genetics of sheep in the region by bringing in high quality ewes and rams to increase wool production.
Mboleki Sikhotshi, chairperson of the Mnquma Woolgrowers Association – which falls under Region 20 – says farmers often sell their wool to informal buyers who underpay them, while losing out on good payments from commercial buyers.
The region, is also battling drought conditions and high temperatures, uncharacteristic for this time of year.
According to NWGA production advisor Lwando Gaqazele some municipalities in the region work hard to supply farmers with sheds, equipment, high quality breeding Merino rams to increase the quality of their wool and vaccinations. However, farmers in the largest part of Region 20 still face an uphill battle.
The Department of Rural Development and Agricultural Reform, in partnership with the NWGA, also helps farmers earn more from their farms. Many farmers say they can now send their children to university, build better houses and have a better quality of life.