Lesotho farmers to sell wool directly to buyers

Lesotho farmers to sell wool directly to buyers

MASERU – SMALL Businesses Minister Chalane Phori says the government has directed him to ensure that Basotho farmers sell their wool directly to buyers. Phori told thepost this week that the move cut out middlemen in the sale of wool, which will be more profitable to local farmers.
“It is high time that Basotho farmers reap real benefits,” Phori said.

Phori said this barely a week after a company that had been selling wool for local farmers at a commission at auctions, BKB Limited, won a case against the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association. The association had entered into an agreement with a new company, Maseru Downing Trading (Pty) Ltd, which is owned by an Australian of Chinese origin behind BKB’s back.

BKB Limited, a South Africa-based wool and mohair marketer and Maseru Downing Trading (Pty) Ltd, are fighting to control Lesotho’s wool and mohair. The fight led to a temporary freezing of BKB’s bank account held with Standard Lesotho Bank nearly a month ago.
The police, who said they were investigating tax evasion, money laundering and the financing of terrorism, had managed to get a court order to shut down BKB’s bank account.

BKB was paying the farmers through the account. After its account was frozen, Lesotho’s farmers could not cash their cheques.
Their association had entered into an agreement with Maseru Downing to sell wool and mohair through it behind BKB’s back.

This led to another setback for the farmers because their exports had to be stopped until further notice. Phori said a sub-committee made up of six MPs had been formed to investigate the problem and suggest a solution to the problem. The minister chairs the committee.

An attempt by Parliament to intervene in the dispute was only stopped after the parties sued each other.
The cabinet’s decision can have dire consequences to BKB as this will mean that it can no longer collect Basotho’s wool.
BKB’s main business in Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and Namibia is to collect wool and sell it in Port Elizabeth at international auctions.

Staff Reporter

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