Good news at last!

Good news at last!

THABA-TSEKA – AFTER all the hard work, it was time for pomp, funfair and competition as the long awaited day finally came for Thaba-Tseka wool and mohair farmers.
Last Thursday marked the last livestock district show ahead of the national show scheduled for Berea Ha-Foso on May 29.

At the Thaba-Tseka show, hopes were high amongst farmers amid a sea of festivities.
In one corner, a group of men sang: “This is the day we have been waiting for, a day when real warriors will be known, men will be separated from boys.”
Women clad in their Seshoeshoe dresses and Sesotho blankets ululated and blew whistles as they moved around to get a vantage point from where they could witness the judging and showcasing of their livestock.

Men drove sheep and goats to a field where the animals would be checked by brokers and personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Even prisoners were part of the celebratory event.

A group of convicts, brought from the Thaba-Tseka Correctional Service to entertain farmers, dressed like shepherds performed the Sesotho mohobelo dance.
Sheep and goats bleated. The stench from livestock urine and the aroma from fat cakes and processed meats cooked by vendors combined to fill their air but no one seemed to care.

Spirits were high amongst farmers, with everyone hopeful that they would walk away victorious. In the end, many walked empty handed but it did not seem like defeat.
There seemed to be agreement and pride amongst farmers that they had improved the quality of their wool and mohair.

Among the exhibitors was ’Mamotebang Aupa, a wool and mohair farmer with a flock of 50 sheep and 30 goats.
She has been a farmer for over 10 years but was attending the show for the first time.
“It is a process to improve wool and mohair quality (that’s why) I am only joining the show now,” she said.

She said the challenge for her had been raising enough funds and finding the time to properly take care of her flock.
“I want to have a manageable number of livestock. I don’t want a big flock because it becomes a challenge to take care of it,” Aupa said.

She said working at the Mohlanapeng shearing shed classing wool and mohair opened her eyes about the quality of wool and mohair.
“It has been challenging over the years to improve my wool and mohair because the flock spends most time at the cattle post,” she said.

She added that having flock at cattle posts means that they rely solely on pastures for feeding.
“Because of climate change there is not enough for the flock to feed on. They need supplementary animal feed and it is costly to get it to the cattle posts,” she said.
She is currently working towards having enough flock that she can rear at home.

“I bought a ram but I can only keep a few sheep at home at the moment so I only feed a few properly,” she said.
She said her family has been surviving on nothing else but revenue from wool and mohair sales.
“I have been taking care of my seven children with that money. There is no other form of revenue,” she said.

Aupa was quick to point out that this year things have been tough as revenue from wool and mohair sales has been low.
“I am still awaiting the second half of my payment and the first half I received I was not able to achieve much with it.”

Later Aupa told thepost that she did not win but unlike her counterparts she was not complaining about the judges.
“Competition was tight. There are some sheep here that one can see that they have been fed with supplementary feed from birth but some of us haven’t been able to do that.”
Teboho Tuutsoe and Tšeliso Mautsoe were among the day’s biggest winners.
Tuutsoe said he worked hard to improve his mohair quality.

“If any farmer can manage to separate those goats I will pay him. Come hell or high water I will come out victorious, there aren’t any goats like mine here,” Tuutsoe said.
He ended up collecting numerous awards, including that of the best mohair grower in the district.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Nthabiseng Makoae, said the government is working tirelessly to ensure that farmers get what is due to them.
“This sector has played a huge role and created thousands of jobs,” Makoae said.
“I can assure you that as the government we are working hard to see that in the end farmers will get their payments,” she said.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

 

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