The government of Lesotho has issued a temporary reprieve to the troubled wool and Mohair farmers.
For more than a year now, the farmers have been forced to deal with a Chinese broker, which many felt that he is being imposed upon them to monopolise the industry.
The brokers’ system was marred by protests from farmers citing gross underpayment and in some instances no payments made at all.
The farmers are threatening to embark on another massive protest to challenge the system.
Wool and Mohair farmers will no longer be counting sheep and losing sleep over their troubled industry and that’s thanks to the reprieve from the Lesotho government.
“While we await the wool and Mohair brokers to get established, the government has made a resolution to allow those who are in possession of their products to trade with whomever they so wish, whether in or outside the country, for the next three months considered as being a grace period,” says Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
However, some farmers are not happy and they fear the industry is now being herded to a wrong direction.
“Up until 2017, Lesotho retained the second spot in the world when it comes to the merino sheep trading. Trading at BKM, a kilogram fetched up to R600. We are no longer sure since we are selling on the black market how statistics will pan out,” says farmer Mokoenehi Thinyane.
Pressing questions from journalists seemed to be sounding like noise of a bleating sheep for government.
The Prime Minister adds, “All your questions are about predicting a very negative Lesotho – a Lesotho where everybody is a crook; a Lesotho where everybody is failing; a Lesotho where government is bad; a Lesotho where farmers are bad. I want to advise you seriously. My age is now 70. Stop being so pessimistic. It won’t help you. It’s an advice from a man who has made it to 70.”
While much confusion continues to reign about the future of the multi-million industry, many farmers are left caught up between the place and a hard rock.