BNP promises wool sector boon
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.