M3 million equipment for wool & mohair project

M3 million equipment for wool & mohair project

MASERU-SOME farmers are not happy after the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP) bought M3 million equipment which they say is outdated.

The equipment which was aimed at easing farmers’ work especially related to shearing, sorting and packaging wool and mohair includes weighing scales, bale pressers, shearing scissors and sorting baskets.
Thating Nkhahle, the chairman of the Mokhotlong Wool and Mohair Farmers Association, told thepost that some farmers are not happy with the new equipment.

He said some farmers complained that the new equipment, which was bought in May, is a misfit because their sheds are modern ones.
He said most sheds in the district are old and need to be upgraded.

“With the aid of the WAMPP the Matsoku and Semenanyane sheds are being rebuilt. The condition of the sheds was troubling,” he said.
“The structures were weak and could fall anytime and we feared that they would harm people and animals.”

Khotsang Moshoeshoe, the chairman of the Thabang Shed in Mokhotlong, said they received equipment from the WAMPP but “most of it will not benefit or improve our work as we had hoped”.
Moshoeshoe said the equipment is not only outdated but also domestic and not industrial.

“We were not consulted,” he said, adding: “Had we been consulted the WAMPP would have been able to purchase equipment we need.”
“We do not use manual scales anymore, we use digital ones,” he said.
“We also use industrial shearing scissors and not domestic ones. We need electrical bale pressers. Most of the things we received are not what we need.”

Moshoeshoe said what they needed were sorting tables and shearing machines due to the high volume of sheep and goats sheared at the shed.
He said in future it would be prudent for the WAMPP to consult with sheds as well and jot just district committees since their needs as farmers across the sheds differ.

But Phomolo Lebotsa, the Knowledge Management Officer at the WAMPP, said the purchase of the equipment was aligned with the project’s intentions to grow wool and mohair farmers.

“We want to see farmers grow from where they are to their full potential hence we try various initiatives to address their needs,” Lebotsa said.
The equipment, he said, was bought based on the advice they received from farmers.

“For example we wanted to buy digital scales but we were advised against it by farmers pointing out that digital scales often break down and when being taken for repairs it halts farmers’ work,” he said.
They also pointed out that the digital scales required press flat surface to produce accurate weights and that is a challenge as most sheds are old and not flat.

It is for this reason he said that the project had decided that they would get each sheds both digital and manual scales so that farmers can enjoy using them without having to halt their work when one is dysfunctional.
He said buying electrical shearing scissors was difficult as most sheds do not have electricity or trained shearers who could use the equipment without harming livestock.

“We really want to advance farmers hence the sheds that are currently being constructed are built in a manner that they will have solar power,” Lebotsa said.

“We are also looking at equipment that can use both electricity and batteries,” he said.
Lebotsa added that they are also looking at furnishing sheds with computers to help with record keeping and quicken the process of payments receipt for farmers.

He said together with the Lesotho Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LMWGA) they are working hand-in-hand to improve and ease the work of farmers.
“We are learning as we go and grateful that through the LMWGA we are able to reach the grassroots and hear their needs.

The WAMPP, financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is a seven-year project aimed at improving the quality and quantity of wool and mohair, the processing and marketing of these fibres produced by Basotho.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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