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Finally, a sigh of relief for farmers!

Aug. 6, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU - The government has finally bowed to wool and mohair farmers’ pressure by allowing them to sell their product to any market of their choice.This has been given a big thumbs’ up by the farmers who said their lives were just a mess because they struggled to put bread on their table.

There are sad stories that were told by the farmers at the time the government was still engaged in the fibre war as a result of the localisation policy and regulations that were introduced. Some farmers however, favoured the Chinese investor, Stone Shi who runs the Thaba-Bosiu based Lesotho Wool Centre.

The latest developments have of course been embraced with a number of stern warnings. Agriculture minister, Tefo Mapesela, says the fact that China has finally agreed to accept the Basotho wool that was stuck at the Port Elizabeth port in South Africa is going to attract a lot of charges on the farmers’ produce. He said amongst the extras will be the treatment of the fibre before it can be re-package for export to China.

He said it has not been easy to negotiate the opening of the market  for the produce that was held up in Port Elizabeth, adding however, that Basotho should by now know they can export direct to all global markets from Lesotho. But Mapesela said as the laws dictate, all the farmers are free to choose where they want to sell their produce.

On a different note, he warned that at the shearing sheds all farmers should be treated equally wherever they want to sell their produce. Dr Gerard Mahloane, the government veterinarian, said they are ready to send their vets to Port Elizabeth, to examine the wool that has been stuck there since last year.

According to a government savingram dated August 5, 2020, a delegation of two Lesotho nationals including Dr Relebohile Lepheana and Mosiuoa Paul Kou will travel to Port Elizabeth on August 17 to inspect the Lesotho wool at the BKB warehouse.

The wool was supposed to have been to China but failed because of the foot and mouth disease that broke out in Limpopo.

The foot and mouth disease was recorded in November according to the South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. So South Africa as a whole was treated as a risky country to trade with due to the outbreak.

It was as a result placed under restrictions and it had to deal with the disease first.The Lesotho fibre that was ferried to Port Elizabeth was subsequently treated the same way as the one from South Africa. Dr Mahloane said there is a lot of untruthfulness that is being fed the nation in respect of the wool stuck in Port Elizabeth.

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He said he was personally accused of being unwilling to endorse the Lesotho’s wool and mohair for exportation to China. He dismissed the accusation as a political statement that was both untrue and baseless. Lesotho he further showed is now ready to export wool and mohair straight to China.

Chairman of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association Mokoinihi Thinyane said this has come as a great relief to them. He said being allowed to sell their product to any market of their choice will positively transform their lives. Lesotho is one of the leading mohair producers in the world and its wool is a leading agricultural commodity export. Most families especially those living in the highlands of Lesotho use their livestock as their sole source of income.

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