BNP prom­ises wool sec­tor boon

Lesotho Times - - News - Bereng Mpaki

BA­SOTHO Na­tional Party ( BNP) leader, Th­e­sele ’Maserib­ane ( pic­tured) says a BNP gov­ern­ment would fa­cil­i­tate eco­nomic growth by spear­head­ing the pro­cess­ing of wool and mo­hair prod­ucts in the coun­try to ob­tain full value from ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion.

Speak­ing at a party rally in Thaba Tseka this week, Chief ’ Maserib­ane said the coun­try was los­ing mil­lions of mal­oti in po­ten­tial earn­ings by ex­port­ing un­pro­cessed wool and mo­hair to South Africa.

The rally was held to can­vass sup­port for the party ahead of the 3 June 2017 na­tional elec­tions.

King Let­sie III called for elec­tions in the af­ter­math of last month’s no-confidence vote spon­sored by the op­po­si­tion bloc against the coali­tion gov­ern­ment headed by Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili.

The wool and mo­hair in­dus­try is based on rear­ing merino sheep and an­gora goats by small­holder farm­ers, par­tic­u­larly in the high­land dis­tricts of Quthing, Qacha’s Nek, Mokhot­long, Thaba-tseka and Butha-buthe.

It is one of the few suc­cess sto­ries of agri­cul­ture in the coun­try which has achieved steady growth in re­cent years and helped al­le­vi­ate or mit­i­gate the ef­fects of poverty in these ar­eas.

The sec­tor gen­er­ated M330 mil­lion in rev­enue in the 2015/16 fi­nan­cial year from ex­port of raw wool and mo­hair, up from M250 mil­lion in the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year.

The wool and mo­hair is sold at ex­hi­bi­tions in South Africa through the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of a South African agri­cul­tural so­lu­tions com­pany, BKB.

From there it is ex­ported to var­i­ous coun­tries in Europe while some of it finds its way back to Le­sotho as fin­ished prod­ucts such as Ba­sotho tra­di­tional blan­kets which con­sist of 50 per­cent wool.

How­ever, Chief ’Maserib­ane said the coun­try was los­ing out from the ex­port of raw wool.

He said Ba­sotho could gen­er­ate more rev­enue from ex­tract­ing and pro­cess­ing a grease in the wool known as lano­lin.

The BNP leader said one of the suc­cesses of his ten­ure as a cab­i­net min­is­ter in the sports and youth port­fo­lio dur­ing the Eighth Par­lia­ment was help­ing to find so­lu­tions to­wards the pro­cess­ing of wool in the coun­try.

Chief ’Maserib­ane said he sup­plied wool pro­cess­ing ma­chin­ery to ‘Matheko Youth Cen­tre in Thaba Tseka.

“One of the ma­chines I bought for the cen­tre was wool pro­cess­ing equip­ment,” he said.

“I did this after ob­serv­ing the in­jus­tice that Ba­sotho suf­fered at the hands of BKB which is ben­e­fit­ing from the lano­lin in our wool.

“Shep­herds know that if they dip their fin­gers in the coat of sheep they can ex­tract a grease which they ap­ply on their bod­ies for nour­ish­ment.”

“We as the BNP, want the wool to be sold sep­a­rately from the lano­lin. But cur­rently the wool is pro­cessed at the coast in South Africa to sep­a­rate it from the lano­lin.

“That is why we are ask­ing you to elect us so that we can bring these plans to fruition.”

Raw wool con­tains 10 to 25 per­cent of lano­lin which is re­cov­ered dur­ing the scour­ing process. Lano­lin con­sists of a highly com­plex mix­ture of es­ters, al­co­hols, and fatty acids and is used in ad­he­sive tapes, print­ing inks, mo­tor oils, and auto lu­bri­ca­tion.

It is also used in cos­met­ics and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Vir­tu­ally all cos­met­ics and beauty prod­ucts such as lip­sticks, mas­cara, lo­tions, sham­poos and hair con­di­tion­ers con­tain lano­lin.

A deal to set up a wool scour­ing plant in Le­sotho was signed by the Le­sotho Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, Le­sotho Na­tional Wool and Mo­hair Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and a Chi­nese in­vestor, Ningbo ETDZ Hold­ings Ltd in 2012.

How­ever, the deal fell through as the par­ties could not agree on the terms, par­tic­u­larly on the price the fa­cil­ity would pay farm­ers for their wool and mo­hair.

Mean­while, Chief ‘Maserib­ane also lamented the lack of live­stock trade shows for the proper mar­ket­ing of sheep and goats in the coun­try. He said lo­cal meat was or­ganic and there­fore of high value in the mar­ket as the an­i­mals feed from nat­u­ral herbs of the high­lands.

“But there are no agri­cul­tural trade shows where these an­i­mals can be sold to the abat­toir. As a re­sult, we are left with a sit­u­a­tion where these an­i­mals are ex­hib­ited along the streets where they quickly de­te­ri­o­rate be­cause they are not fed well there,” he added.

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