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First rams’ auction continues in Quthing

Jan. 17, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU - Lesotho’s attempts to localise and improve wool and mohair production are already reaping positive results as farmers will now be able to purchase locally bred rams when the Quthing sheep stud opens the market this week.

The Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP) will auction the first batch of rams on Thursday in the Quthing district for the first time, WAMPP Livestock Production Manager Ntai Lepheana told Metro this week.

He said a total of 80 rams would be on auction from the project which was supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the government of Lesotho and the farmers themselves as the main backers.

He showed there some donors still supported this government’s initiative that was geared towards poverty eradication through the promotion of wool and mohair.

The project he said initially bought high breeds of sheep and goats in South Africa so that they could produce their own animals in Lesotho.

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“This was done in a bid to block the erosion of money to South Africa,” he said.

He said many Basotho farmers go to South Africa to buy high breeds for mainly wool and mohair production and this project was initiated to cut such expenses.

There are two sheep studs located in Quthing and Mokhotlong districts which have so far served all the 10 districts farmers’ needs.

Mr Lepheana said the farmers drawn from all the 10 districts were expected to come to the auction to buy rams.

Farmers from outside the country are allowed to purchase at the auction based on the principles of free trade, he said.

This event will be graced with the presence of Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Litšoane Litšoane who will also be expected to deliver a key note address.

Chairman of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association Mokoinihi Thinyane said they welcomed the move by WAMP to hold the auction, saying that would help boost the country’s economy in a number of ways.

He said they would no longer incur expenses to import the rams from South Africa and as such, all the logistics would be curtailed, giving the local farmer the much needed competitive production edge.

He cited that their transport costs from as far as Eastern Cape, South Africa would now be minimised with the local auctions, adding that farmers would also no longer pay tax at the borders and no permit would be required to buy the ram as it was the case when they had to go to South Africa.

Local farmers have in the past joined auctions in South Africa where well-bred rams and ewes sell for several thousands of rand. In a recent auction, a high breed Merino ram was sold for over hundred thousand Rands.

Back in 2017, Mr Lepheana said they bought the sheep from South African certified farms with the help of veterinarians after a severe drought that had struck southern Africa.

He said they bought a total of 586 ewes.

“We did not buy just ordinary sheep but the high breeds,” Mr Lepheana said.

He said these ewes were not bred at the same time and therefore would be auctioned at another time.

For their support, Mr Lepheana said they bought sophisticated machinery and tilled the land to plant fodder crops such as lucerne for support feeding at the stud.

He said they also bought some concentrated food stuff from local shops to supplement what they had already planted.

This, he said was done in a bid to have a provision of enough food for the sheep throughout the year.

Mr Lepheana said they had also considered the best vaccinations they could offer to the sheep under close supervision of veterinarians.

The sheep studs he said were under the sublease agreement of farmers for 20 years.

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