Mohair farmers appeal to SADC

Mohair farmers appeal to SADC

MASERU – THE Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) has appealed to SADC to intervene in its dispute with the Lesotho government.
The association is also seeking assistance from the European Union and the United States to pressure the government to suspend the regulations that prohibit farmers from exporting their wool and mohair.

The farmers have also sent its plea to the Chinese government.
The LNWMGA’s spokesperson, Rantelali Shea, told thepost last night that they believe the SADC and the other countries could lean on the government to change the regulations. He said they have also recommended that the government should be slapped with sanctions if it refuses to back down.
“Those countries are our trading partners and there is also aid that we get from them so we think they can help,” Shea said.

“We are not asking for sanctions that affect the people but those that force the government to rethink these regulations because they are hurting Basotho farmers.”
He said the association has not specified what kind of sanctions should be imposed and the nature of the aid that the countries could use as leverage to force the government to reverse the regulations.

Shea also told South Africa’s Farmer’s Weekly, that when these regulations were introduced, the association wrote to the Economic and Development Cluster Committee, asking the Lesotho government to engage with farmers and farmer organisations about the regulations, but to date there had been no consultation.
“Wool and mohair trade [generates] about a half a billion rand in revenue annually and supports more than 50 000 small-stock wool and mohair growers in Lesotho. The association also has 37 500 members across Lesotho, who earn a living from the proceeds of the sale of Lesotho fibre clip,” he said.

Shea said over the past 44 years, the government of Lesotho had set up a formal system to enable the farmers to auction their wool and mohair through brokers from the South African Wool and Mohair Buyers’ Association at the Port Elizabeth Wool Exchange.
The brokers include BKB, among others.

“The regulations that are forced upon us only disturb the stable market of our fibre and other related contracts. As we can’t continue to deliver the wool and mohair directly to the international markets, in particular BKB, we are unable to service the loans that were secured to finance the project,” he added.
The organisation has submitted a number of petitions to different institutions, including Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, requesting that the legislation be withdrawn.

“We have tried in vain to take all legal ways to solve this man-made problem, but the government of Lesotho has chosen to ignore all three court rulings in our favour.
“The police have been ordered to confiscate any products of individuals who try to export. We are appealing to our neighbouring countries to assist the association as we appeal [through the] courts.” Additional reporting from the Farmer’s Weekly.

Staff Reporter

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