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Mapesela blasts famers’ failure to support wool and mohair project

Bereng Mpaki

AGRICULTURE and Food Security minister Tefo Mapesela has accused the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) of failing to inject funds into the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP).

The WAMPP is a seven-year project which commenced in 2016, aimed at boosting smallholder wool and mohair producers’ resilience to the adverse effects of climate change and economic shocks.

Among other things, the project aims to addresses challenges in the wool and mohair value chain, specifically in rangeland management, merino sheep and angora goat production as well as the processing and marketing of wool and mohair.

The government agreed to inject M68 million into the project and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is expected to contribute M197 million. The Adaptation for Smallholder Agricultural Programme (ASAP) is expected to contribute M119 million, the OPEC Fund for International Development (M204 million) and the LNWMGA (M20 million).

But according to Mr Mapesela, the LNWMGA is yet to honour its end of the agreement. The outspoken minister did not take kindly to comments by LNWMGA chairperson Mokuenihi Thinyane who had claimed that the government was sidelining the association from the project.

Mr Thinyane made the remarks on Thursday in Qholaqhoe, Butha-Buthe during the launch of infrastructure projects constructed under the WAMPP.

The projects included wool sheds and breeding centres for wool and mohair farmers. Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro attended the ceremony along with farmers and other stakeholders.

Mr Thinyane was miffed that the LNWMGA’s name was not inscribed on the commemorative plaque of the WAMPP’s projects.  Addressing the gathering, he said, “I have noticed that the association has not been acknowledged by the government on the wool shed’s plaque for unknown reasons”.

“No one has a right to leave out the association from this project because it is part of the project’s proposal.”

Responding to Mr Thinyane’s utterances, Mr Mapesela said the association had not contributed any funds into the project.

“Part of the LNWMGA’s role in the project is to contribute M20 million (but) they have not paid a single cent into the project. The only thing they have done is to organise small stock farmers around the country.

“This means these wool sheds and the two breeding centres in Mokhotlong and Quthing belong to the government,” Mr Mapesela said.

All in all, Dr Majoro launched 22 new shearing sheds, 43 rehabilitated sheds; two slaughter facilities in Quthing and Butha-Buthe.

The wool and mohair sub-sector is estimated to provide and support the livelihoods of at 100 000 households. Through its projects, the WAMPP aims to increase this figure by another 50 000 households.

The country’s communal rangelands serve as the primary source of feeding for most farmers and the WAMPP will inculcate a culture of supplementary feeding by conducting fodder demonstrations in all the agro-ecological zones of Lesotho.

Working in conjunction with the National University of Lesotho (NUL), research studies will be conducted to test the best types of fodder to grow in each zone.

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