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Shot in the arm for Eastern Cape wool, angora producers

If the Eastern Cape is to continue being the largest producer of merino sheep and angora goats in South Africa, animal health will have to be prioritised with zero compromises made.

This is according to rural development & agriculture MEC Nonkqubela Pieters, who told MPLs while delivering the department’s budget and policy speech at the legislature in March that the province was committed to maintaining the best tag of both commodities.

Based on annual sales of producer lots, the Eastern Cape was the largest wool-producing province during 2019-2020 with 13.5m kilograms, generating R1.2bn in foreign income

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“Currently there are 1,896 shearing associations that produce about four million kilograms of wool,” she said. However, she stressed the need for the industry, which up to now had been predominantly white-dominated, to be transformed.

“The department has partnered with the Eastern Communal Wool Growers Association which has been registered as an industrial commodity organisation to transform the wool industry by providing targeted support to black wool producers.

“In the 2021-2022 financial year, the department set aside R14.3m for infrastructure development that includes 28 shearing sheds and R6m for provision of 800 improved genetic material to smallholder and communal farmers,” Pieters said.

“To protect the provincial wool clip, a budget of R8m has been set aside to inoculate 3.7m sheep against sheep scab.” When wool and mohair are readily available — which are some of the materials used by some of the top clothing designers in South Africa — the textile industry thrives.

Pieters said maintaining the high standard of producing quality wool and mohair was a priority for Bhisho.

“During the 2020-2021 financial year, the department completed the construction of 26 fully equipped shearing sheds with small stock dipping facility and four small stock handling facilities.

“Animal health remains a cornerstone of this industry and 7.8m treatments were applied against sheep scab to ensure marketability of the provincial flock.

“A total of 2,342 merino type sheep and angora goats were distributed to smallholder and communal farmers to improve the quality of fibre produced.” South Africa mohair broke price records in three consecutive auctions in 2021 as the animal fibre continued its upward trajectory.

In March, the third mohair auction for 2021 saw the overall mohair market closing at R395.08 per kg, 11% higher than the previous auction.

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