MASERU — Two local companies and a Chinese state-owned enterprise will this year establish a M25 million wool scouring plant in Lesotho.
The Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers’ Association and Chinese investor Ningbo ETDZ Holdings Ltd.
The project will use advanced machinery to clean and process wool in Lesotho.
Lesotho currently exports its raw wool to South Africa.
The wool scouring processing plant will remove grease, weeds, soil and other impurities from the greasy wool produced by the growers leaving it clean for further industrial use.
The LNDC Chief Executive Officer, Joshua Setipa, said that Lesotho can now fully enjoy the benefits of the wool market.
“Lesotho does not fully benefit from its wool and mohair production due to lack of capacity to process the greasy wool into a high quality raw material required by the textile industry in world markets,” Setipa said.
He said this project would adopt the most advanced raw wool scouring machine in the market with the ability to process 8000 tons of greasy wool annually using appropriate techniques and advanced technology.
In terms of the MOU, shareholding is split among the parties with 55 percent going to Ningbo, 26 percent being taken by the LNDC and 19 percent by the wool and mohair growers.
Ningbo will prepare and send a design of the factory building to LNDC within the next two weeks and proceed to order machinery for the project.
LNDC will immediately draft a detailed agreement and start preparations for construction of the factory shell within a week after receiving the designs.
The project will contribute to the economic development by creating jobs for locals at the factory and by-product jobs from quality sheep breeding.
It will also increase quantity of wool and mohair as well as skills development.
For many rural households in Lesotho, livestock keeping, particularly cattle, sheep and goats form a very important asset base.
More importantly products such as wool and mohair are Lesotho’s main agricultural export commodities that bring foreign earnings for the country and much needed income for the farming communities in the rural areas.
The productivity of this sub-sector is however constrained by disease outbreaks.
Diseases such as sheep scabies are chronic in this country and severely reduce wool and mohair production.
Other diseases reduce the marketability of livestock products in the international markets.
For instance, the recent outbreak of anthrax in Maseru and Mafeteng districts resulted in refusal by the major wool and mohair importing countries to buy Lesotho’s wool.
Lesotho’s wool fetched very low prices with devastating impact on farmers and the overall rural economy due to constraint in securing buyers from major importers.