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Wool and mohair production in Lesotho

T. Mafisa

Department Of Livestock Services
Animal Production Division
Private Bag A82 Maseru 100 Lesotho


Introduction
The size of the small stock industry in Lesotho
Current productivity and usage
History of small stock in Lesotho
Adoption of technologies
Development and expansion of programme
Suggested framework for future development programmes
References


Summary

About 10% of the total land area in Lesotho is suitable for arable cropping, 66% being usable for grazing. Agriculture contributes approximately 23% of the gross domestic product and occupies about 65% of the labour force. Small-scale farming predominates the industry. Crop production is primarily for home consumption with small surpluses being sold in the local markets. The national livestock inventory includes 600,000 head of cattle, 1,620, 000 sheep, 800,000 goats and 200,000 equines.

The small ruminant industry in Lesotho is composed of sheep and goats, normally referred to as small stock. The local sheep population is a local Merino strain which arose from the upgrading of the indigenous fat-tailed sheep to Merino over many generations since the 1800s to the extent that the characteristics of the fat-tailed sheep have virtually disappeared. The country imports about 500 studs annually to improve the local strain. The local Merino is described as hardy and well adapted to the environment but it is small in size and is a low yielder of wool arid mutton. Wool sheep are very important to the country producing about 3500 tons of raw wool annually for export. Further, mutton is an important meat. Estimated per capita consumption is 2.7 kg, the highest in the region. The sales of wool and live animals are a major source of income for the rural communities.

The indigenous short hair goat strain has been diluted through generations of crossing with Mohair goats and its characteristics have essentially disappeared. However, there has not been a systematic importation of improved Mohair Angora bucks.

The flocks of small ruminants are on rangeland that is already overgrazed and not surprisingly, the animals are malnourished to a great extent, especially during winter when the grazing land has limited quantities of forage Underfeeding results in poor growth, low wool/mohair production, variable wool quality and high mortality rates among the young (pre and post-weaning which is associated with poor nutrition, unhygienic night kraals and diseases.

Introduction

Lesotho is a small landlocked country in southern Africa, completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, with a total area of 30 355 km . The country is divided into four main agro-ecological zones, namely:

· The lowlands in the west, lying between altitudes 1500 m and 1830 m. This zone occupies about 15% of the total country.

· The foothills in the centre between 1830 m and 2130 m covering about 8% the land.

· The Orange River Valley lying between 1500 m and 2250 m. The valley occupies approximately 11% of the country.

· The mountain range that lies between 2130 m and 3480 m altitude and comprises about 66% of the total land. This zone is the heart of Lesotho's rangelands and is sparsely populated compared to other regions, especially the lowlands. However, there is evidence to indicate that this is changing because of increasing population pressure, with villages mushrooming in areas earlier thought to be exclusively rangelands.

The average rainfall in Lesotho is about 753 mm, 80% of which falls in the warmer months of October to March. Temperatures vary dramatically with each season, rising up to 35°C in the midst of summer and dropping as low as -12.5 C in the mountain areas in winter.

The land tenure system is such that land belongs to the Basotho nation and is held in trust by the state. The chiefs are charged with the responsibility of administering the land on behalf of the state. With the promulgation of the 1979 Land Act, there was a shift in the administration of land. The act provided for the formation of Land Allocation Committees with the chiefs present as ex officio members and chairpersons. In this capacity they have the powers to allocate and revoke land allocations especially in the case of arable and residential land.

Lesotho's rangelands are used communally by all livestock owners. Management of rangelands (Motsamai, 1990) is the responsibility of chiefs who, with land allocation committees, are required to close and open areas for grazing in accordance with range management principles and in order to enhance animal production and productivity.

The legal authority of the chiefs and Land Allocation Committees is spelt out in the Range Management and Grazing Control Regulations of 1980, amended in 1986. Among other things, the regulations provide that a chief can impound livestock found trespassing in an area that is closed to grazing.

The size of the small stock industry in Lesotho

The small-ruminant industry in Lesotho is composed of sheep and goats, commonly referred to in the country as small stock. According to the Bureau of Statistics (1989/90), there were about 1.6 million sheep and 0.8 million goats in Lesotho in 1989/90 agricultural year. Table 1 shows the distribution of numbers by agro-ecological zone.

Table 1. Distribution of sheep and goats by agro-ecological zones

Zone

Sheep

Goats

Lowland

247,502

181,124

Foothill

195,780

196,811

Mountain

887,162

289,929

Orange River Valley

310,309

177,247

Totals

1,640,753

844,111

Source: Bureau of Statistics (1989/90).

The sheep populations fluctuated between 1 million and 1.5 million during the 10-year period between 1979/80 and 1988/89 (Bureau of statistics, 1988/89) while the goat population fluctuated between 0.8 million and 1 million during the same period. The explanation for these fluctuations is not readily obvious but it is thought that reductions could have been due to periodic droughts resulting in high lamb and kid mortalities in a sector that has low reproductive performance.

The mountain region has the highest number of sheep followed by Senqu River Valley, the lowlands and the foothills, respectively. In terms of goat numbers, the mountain region has the highest populations followed by the foothills, lowlands and the Senqu River Valley.

Current productivity and usage

The Agricultural Policy Issues document of 1987 suggests that "Basotho farmers regard livestock as a capital asset competitive with any other available investment". Return to capital investments for sheep and goats is reported to be 7.2 and 10%, respectively. In the light of the foregoing, it is safe to assume that economic considerations outweigh social and cultural considerations, the importance of which are not by any means being minimised here. On the whole, small stock is the only important cash commodity in Lesotho.

Sheep and goats are kept primarily for production of wool and mohair, respectively. It is known that small stock farmers especially sheep farmers (Basotho) prefer mutton to goat meat and they periodically slaughter castrates (hammels) and old sheep for family consumption; this practice is more common in winter. Small stock are also used for such cultural obligations as payment of bride price, payment to traditional healers and burial ceremonies. Use of dung as manure is apparently common in the lowlands where there is relatively more crop farming than in other regions.

Data on small stock productivity (Table 2) show low reproduction rates during the 16-year period from 1973/74 to 1988/89; lambing and kidding percentages averaged 39 and 36, respectively, for sheep and goats. The reproduction rates fall far below the acceptable lambing/kidding percentages of 85 and above. Table 2 shows developments in the five-year period up to 1988/89.

Table 2. Reproductive rates for sheep and goats

Year

Ewes

Lambs born

Lambing rates ewe (%)

Does

Kids born

Kidding rates (%)

1984/85

777,031

327,438

42

582,562

242,250

42

1985/85

754,538

361,925

48

572,962

214,925

38

1986/87

966,499

325,809

34

656,841

234,844

36

1987/88

956,735

339,125

35

648,360

224,120

35

1986/89

877,665

305,370

35

638,675

184,735

29

Source: Bureau of Statistics (1989/90).

Scarcity of forage in the range is suspected to be the main cause for low reproduction rates (Lekatsa, 1990). Of the 30 farmers interviewed in the Mafeteng, Mokhotlong and Leribe districts, only two practiced supplementary feeding prior to mating (flushing) and five gave feed supplements before lambing/kidding (steaming up). One farmer fed lactating ewes up to six weeks post-lambing. Among the constraints cited was the inadequate land for fodder production and the high costs of commercial feeds. The other factor which contributed to low fecundity was the imbalanced ratio of rams to ewes. In the survey of the three districts, only seven out of 30 farmers had sufficient rams. Most lambs/kids died a few weeks after birth, probably as a result of starvation and internal parasites, especially milk tapeworm. Farmers did not explicitly agree on the significance of parasites. None of the farmers interviewed culled or used selection as a management tool especially with respect to reproduction. Had time permitted the interview of more farmers, the same picture would probably have emerged.

History of small stock in Lesotho

Information on the origin of the sheep industry in Lesotho is scanty (Lekatsa, 1990). It is thought that the original sheep kept by the Basotho were fat-tailed non-wool producing types similar to those originally kept by the Hottentots in the Cape. Merino sheep, however, found their way into Lesotho from the raids on flocks kept by white settlers in the Orange Free State. Some sheep were brought in by Basotho working in white settler farms who received sheep in lieu of wages. Angora goats, although, mostly from the Cape, came in under very similar channels. It is thought that as the Merino and Angora populations increased farmers with Merino and Angora sold their male offsprings to their neighbours. It is also probable that the farmers who had worked on white settler farms brought back home with them a wealth of experience.

Government farms and neighbouring countries

The Government, with the help of the South African Wool Board (SAWB), established a Merino Stud farm in the Quthing District of Lesotho in 1965. The board supplied fencing material and cleared an area covering 430 hectares and it also supplied a foundation stock of about 150 ewes and four stud rams. The farm now has about 300 breeding ewes. The second farm was established in Mokhotlong in 1969 along the same lines. Both farms were designed to be demonstration farms providing training in various aspects of sheep management. Over the years farmers have taken educational tours to these farms. Rams are produced for sale to sheep farmers in the country. The main thrust of this initiative has been to reduce dependence on the Republic of South Africa. Whether or not this has been achieved is discussed elsewhere in this paper. There are no government farms for Angora goats.

The Department of Livestock Services organises educational tours for farmers to the neighbouring Republic of South Africa to expose them to the farm management practices adopted there. Much has been learnt from this facility.

Extension service

It is said that before the 1960s, development programmes were mainly enforced through regulations such as those for dipping for sheep scab eradication in 1925 (Hunter, 1987). The shift towards education and persuasion through group activity only gained support of government officials in the 1960s. This approach resulted in the formation of a scheme for progressive sheep and goat farmers in 1960. The purpose was "to build up a class of sheep farmers as opposed to sheep owners, these farmers were regularly visited and advised on all aspects of modern animal husbandry and they were also encouraged to keep records of work done"

By late 1966 the schemes had evolved into the present Wool and Mohair Growers Associations (WMGAs). While it is true that small stock improvement by breeding started as early as the 1930s (Hunter, 1987), Monts'i (personal communication, 17-7-92) asserted that there were no formal livestock extension services up to the early 1960s when the first group of veterinary assistants were engaged. The emphasis had, hitherto, been on disease control in areas of dipping, vaccinations and dosing. The work was carried out by Temporary Agricultural Demonstrators (TADs).

Small stock production is a section in the Animal Production Division of the Department of Livestock Services in the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). The extension service as it applies to small stock is carried out in the field by Livestock Assistants stationed at Livestock Improvement Centres (LICs) located throughout the country. The Livestock Assistants are trained to certificate level in Agriculture (CIA) and take a nine-month course in elements of veterinary science and animal husbandry.

Research services

The Agricultural Research Division (ARD) first started in the 1940s as a station for testing imported seeds and some crops, and later expanded to eventually include pasture research. Ironically, although the livestock industry contributes about 80% of the total agricultural output, the animal science section of the ARD was established only recently in 1982. From its inception the first half of the first 10 years was mainly spent in developing and training staff. As a result only a limited amount of research work has been done by expatriates.

Lesotho's sheep and goats are relatively poor producers of wool and mohair producing about 60% and 20%, respectively, of what is produced per animal in major fibre producing countries. Constraints to production have been identified to include inappropriate range management practices, lack of supplementary feeding, poor husbandry practices, inadequate disease control measures and inclement weather. All these aspects need some intervention from research and extension.

Adoption of technologies

The adoption of technologies in Lesotho is generally induced rather than spontaneous and it is only people with resources such as land and disposable incomes that are most likely to adopt new technologies. For instance a farmer with ample arable land will probably be better placed to grow fodder and supplement feed for his animals than a farmer without arable land. Because of possible higher volume of returns, farmers with flocks of 76 and above are also more likely to accept change than those with fewer than 10 ewes. Indeed, Hunter (1987) suggests that "larger more wealthy livestock owners may be more willing or more able to undertake management practices than small ones".

Although small stock enterprises give some returns, the industry has not been attractive to businessmen and civil servants because of the perceived comparative advantage of running businesses and salary/wage earning jobs. On the other hand, a smallstock owner in a remote mountain area with virtually no alternative economic activities may find returns from small-stock rearing adequate and acceptable. Indeed, many farmers in these areas are known to be able to accumulate savings.

Factors affecting differences in adoption

Farmers in the lowlands are likely to attach less importance to productivity of small stock due to their access to alternative income sources, especially arable crops. Farmers in the mountains, however, have little choice if any except to ensure that they receive maximum returns from small stock. According to Hunter (1987), mountain goat farmers have 39% higher productivity and 18% higher quality of clip than lowland farmers; this difference reflects the different management levels.

Full time farmers have a good reputation for adopting technologies as small stock farming requires concentration. People who assume it as a sideline may not be successful and not reap comparable benefits. For example close monitoring is required in the breeding and lambing seasons to ensure good conception rates and survival of the newly born lambs/kids. Stock thefts are sporadic but have to be prevented on a continuous basis.

Hunter (1987) reported that as many as 20% of the sheep and 10% of the goat raising households reported thefts each year and it is thought that less than half of those stolen were reported and that of those stolen, only about a third were recovered.

According to Hunter (1987), there has been a redistribution of sheep and goats according to agro-ecological zones. In 1968, 68% of the sheep were in the mountain region but this figure declined to 34% in 1980. During the same period there was an increase of sheep and goats in the lowlands. However, the mountain region still has the bulk of the sheep (54%) but fewer goats (34%).

Development and expansion of programme

Availability of improved livestock

It has been the policy of the government, through its Ministry of Agriculture, to make high quality Merino rams and Angora bucks available to farmers to up-grade their flocks. As early as the 1930s rams were imported from the Republic of South Africa (Hunter, 1987). Between 1948 and 1966 an average of 600 Merino rams and 250 Angora bucks were imported annually. This has continued over the years to date. Table 3 shows annual imports in the last 10 years starting 1982/83.

Table 3. Annual importation of breeding stock.

Year

Merino rams

Merino ewes

Angora bucks

Angora does

1982/83

772


257

20

1983/84

890


268


1984/85

901


256


1985/86

1075

484

275


1986/87

1083


272


1987/88

765

249

103


1988/89

1092


471


1969/90

1189


593


1990/91

1054

171

146


1991/92

343

87

63


Totals

9164

991

2725

60

Yearly average

916

99

273

6

Source: Department of Livestock Services Annual

In order to make a big impact, it has also been the policy of the department to encourage farmers who have upgraded their flocks to sell breeding males to other farmers. However, this has not been very successful due to the lack of follow up by extension staff. As encouragement, these farmers might need price incentives. One of the objectives for establishing the stud farms mentioned previously was to reduce Lesotho's dependence on breeding stock from South Africa. For a variety of reasons, the contribution of these farms to this end has been minimal. The two farms together have contributed only 11% of the annual national ram requirements.

Infrastructure

The Department of Livestock Services has 47 Livestock Improvement Centres (LIC) dotted strategically throughout the country. Two more are being considered. The centres were established with the following objectives in mind:

· To provide animal health services in the area served by the LIC. These services included disease control and treatment of sick animals.

· To provide animal production services especially in areas of improvement and management. It is therefore a nucleus of extension services in the neighbourhood.

· To provide breeding stock to farmers.

Within each LIC there are about four to five dip tanks and each tank serves a dip tank area and has a staff complement of one livestock attendant for one or two tanks. The history of dip tanks dates back to 1925 when the first 200 tanks were built in the aftermath of the historic outbreak of sheep scab (Moshoeshoe, personal communication, 1992). There are now 226 dip tanks across Lesotho. While their main purpose remains the control of sheep scab, the tanks are used for the control of external parasites in general.

Availability of inputs

Vaccinations and dosing are not mandatory, but farmers are advised to vaccinate their small stock against common diseases such as blue tongue, pulpy kidney and black quarter at least once a year. According to Hunter (1987), only 6.4% of sheep farmers and 7.1% of goat farmers vaccinated their animals against these diseases in 1985/86.

Farmers are also advised to deworm their small stock at least four times a year and more frequently during the wet season to control internal parasites. Hunter (1987) reported that only 18% of small stock farmers dosed their animals in 1985/86. Drugs were normally available at LICs and private stores licensed to deal in veterinary drugs and animal feeds.

Market outlets

There are presently two officially recognised wool and mohair marketing channels in Lesotho. Farmers can either sell their wool and mohair at private trading stations authorised to deal in wool and mohair or at government shearing sheds placed at 96 locations across the country. Normally farmers using government sheds are members of Wool and Mohair Growers Associations (WMGAs) and their marketing groups (MGs), while those using trading stations are individuals not affiliated to any group. It is not uncommon, however, to find members of WMGA and MGs using private trading stations for fast payment.

The WMGAs sell their wool through the South African Wool Board (SAWB) and their mohair through the South African Mohair Board (SAMB).

Table 4 has data on members of wool and mohair growers associations, total number of animals shorn, total weight and total value of wool and mohair from the respective associations and their marketing groups for the 1990/91 wool season and 1991 mohair season. The data shows that both the associations and groups are of importance and that the value of wool far exceeds that of mohair.

Table 4. Quantities of wool and mohair shorn and marketed through farmers' association and groups 1990/91, season


Wool Growers Association

Marketing group

Members

4,932

8,746

Sheep shorn

291,853

223,580

Total mass (kg)

833,784

508,540

Total value Rand/Maluti

4,864,573

3,277,189


Mohair Growers Association

Marketing group

No. of members

1,745

4,854

No. of goats shorn

58,334

117,831

Total mass (kg)

833,784

508,540

Total value Maluti/Rand

480,883

510,554

It has not been possible to obtain figures for private traders. Again it was not immediately possible to figure out how much wool or mohair was smuggled out during the same period, but Hunter (1987) suggested that about 5% wool and 15-20% mohair was smuggled out of the country each year. Smuggling therefore constitutes an informal channel of marketing.

Credit to the farmer

The Lesotho Agricultural Development Bank was established in early 1976 for the sole purpose of extending credit to both livestock and crop farmers. Every farmer had access to credit at this bank and from its branches situated at major population centres. Before a loan could be secured a farmer had to satisfy certain requirements, among which was that of attending training courses in the field of interest. A recommendation from the extension agent, a percentage deposit and a declaration of security were also required. The loan had a percentage interest and deposits and interests depended on the type of the loan, but this generally ranged from between 21 and 24%.

Large-scale farmers are known to finance their development programmes/projects from on-farm income, e.g. sale of wool/mohair or culls. The proceeds from these are more often than not used in the purchase of rams, drugs etc. Another source of cash are remittances from mine workers. These labourers, working in the South African mines, normally leave their wives or parents with small stock and continually send money for on-farm requirements, some of which can purchase breeding stock, feeds, drugs or are used to pay herdboys.

Government policy

It is government policy that small stock owners be encouraged to keep only Merino and Angora breeds of sheep and goats, respectively. This has been the policy since 1927 (Hunter, 1987) when the importation of crossbred rams and bucks was legally prohibited. By 1935, livestock officers were legally authorised to castrate crossbreds on sight.

It is a widely held opinion that the policy for adoption of a single breed of sheep and goats, was made in recognition of the character of communal grazing and the lack of fenced farms in Lesotho, within which there would be uncontrolled crossbreeding (Hunter, 1987).

The department is, however, considering a policy shift in this regard, due to the demand for quality mutton especially in lowland urban centres. This development has called for investigation into the possibility of allowing farmers in the lowlands to raise mutton sheep under an intensive production system. The problem will arise if these sheep were to mix with Merino flocks in the extensive grazing system in the other three regions.

In view of farmers' reluctance to cull undesirable animals annually, it has been necessary for the department to introduce a national culling and exchange programme, the legal basis of which is contained in the Range Management and Grazing Control Regulations of 1980 as amended in 1986. The undesirable animals are described as kempy, coloured and broken mouth sheep and goats. The farmers can either sell these through normal marketing channels or exchange them with improved ewes. The incentive is to exchange two culled sheep or goats for one improved sheep or goat. Presently only sheep are being culled and exchanged. In the two districts where the programme started, 266 culls were exchanged for 113 improved sheep. The number of culls does not accurately reflect actual flock numbers in those districts. Farmers have refused to bring their sheep to designated culling sites mostly because they associated this programme with the grazing fee. This will be briefly discussed in the following section.

The Department of Livestock Services and the Government of Lesotho recognise that range is a scarce natural resource belonging to all Basotho people irrespective of whether or not they keep livestock. Because of the communal nature of the utilization of this range, farmers apparently do not view it as their individual and collective responsibility and do not use it in a sustainable manner.

To ensure that a farmer understands and appreciates the value of range, it became imperative to impose fees. It is believed that this direct cost will force farmers to look at small stock as a commercial enterprise and not as a status symbol. In addition it is also likely to force farmers to cull the least productive animals. The grazing fee regulations are contained in the Range Management and Grazing Control (Amendment) Regulations of 1992 and the fee is effective from 1 October 1992. It is payable as follows: large stock (horses, mules, donkeys and cattle) are charged Maluti 5.00 each while for small stock (sheep and goats) the charge is 50 cents each annually (2.86 Maluti = US$ 1).

As a matter of long-term policy and to protect the range from further deterioration, the National Range Management Area Programme (RMA) was introduced in 1982. The RMA is defined as "a special grazing area declared by a chief for improvement of rangeland and livestock production through application of advanced management practices" (Weaver and Sekoto, 1991). The goals are to:

· increase productivity and income of rural livestock producers

· facilitate commercialisation of extensive livestock industry while at the same time satisfying the subsistence needs of rural households

· initiate management of renewable natural resources in a manner which is sustainable and socially acceptable to rural Basotho.

Livestock producers within the RMAs are organised into community-based grazing associations which have management responsibility and authority. The grazing association- committees set aside areas within the RMA for rotational grazing. Further, RMAs procure and keep breeding stock in the form of bulls, rams and bucks which individual members can lease during a mating season. Tariffs are regulated by that association.

Analysis of the factors contributing to success or failure

There are probably more failures than successes realised in the small stock development efforts in Lesotho although the government has succeeded in putting up the necessary infrastructure for the development of the small stock industry in the country. Although mention has been made on livestock improvement centres, dip tanks and shearing sheds the shortage of qualified staff at LICs has been a cause of concern for some time now. Out of the 47 LICs only seven are manned by qualified livestock assistants (LAs).

The shortage of staff has been caused, in part, by a perceived lack of opportunities for personnel career advancement in the department. This is evidenced by the fact that a few LAs sought and obtained transfers to other departments of the ministry. There has also been an alarming staff turnover throughout the years. The staff shortage situation has probably been aggravated by the adoption of the International Monetary Fund-sponsored structural adjustment programmes.

Success has been achieved in the organisation of farmers into associations of wool and mohair growers through education and persuasion. However, the marketing associations are riddled with problems that undermine their very existence. To illustrate the point: there were 10,484 members of WGA in 1985/86 and 4060 mohair grower association members during the same period (Hunter, 1987). However, data obtained for the 1990/91 wool season suggest that the membership of WGA had declined to less than half (4932) and that of mohair growers had increased slightly (4854). The cause for this apparent disintegration of the associations can arguably be traced back to the shortage of advisory staff at the grassroots level. When farmers do not obtain adequate advice then the chances for disillusionment and break up of the groups are high. There exists an urgent need to fill this gap, as it is more cost effective to work with organised groups than with individuals.

Success has been achieved in convincing some farmers to improve their flocks through breeding with improved rams. However, the character of land tenure in Lesotho has not helped those farmers solve their management problems. Progressive farmers have defined a breeding season and they actually plan for it but there are many instances of ewes being impregnated in the communal range. This has greatly slowed, if not completely impeded, efforts to improve stock.

Disease control problems, especially sheep scab can also be blamed on the character of the land tenure system. Those flocks that have been dipped graze together with unclipped flocks, rendering the dipping ineffective. The problem is not confined to sheep scab only, it also includes internal parasites. A few farmers have taken the advice of dosing their animals regularly for internal parasites, but this exercise is futile given that the animals graze on the same range as unclosed flocks. This probably explains why only 18% of the sheep and goat owners dosed their animals according to departmental recommendations in 1984/85 (Hunter, 1987). Farmers still attached value to numbers rather than quality and, as a result, the recommended annual culling of unproductive and off-type animals has not been adhered to by the majority of farmers.

Land degradation in Lesotho is thought to be a result of overstocking and overgrazing. The management of rangelands is a responsibility of chiefs who historically were effective administrators. Apparently that effectiveness has now been undermined (Motsamai, 1990) and negligence has crippled the institution. Many reasons have been cited as contributing to this lack of effectiveness. One school of thought points to the problems facing government in providing the logistical support and manpower to enforce regulations. Chiefs, however, have voiced dissatisfaction with the manner in which trespassers are punished by the courts. In many cases such people are not even brought to justice and if they are, fines may not be meted out according to the law. This, coupled with the delay by courts in administering justice, makes enforcement of regulations difficult.

Suggested framework for future development programmes

The grazing fee regulation, depending on its enforcement, will go a long way in improving the rangeland. Government would do well to speedily gazette the regulations for their timely implementation. The re-adjustment phase in the initial years could be rough but farmers will eventually become accustomed to it as they have to other taxes.

Because of the inaccessibility of some areas by road and, therefore, the impracticability of putting up new shearing sheds, the informal traders wool and mohair "hawkers" (Hunter, 1987) must be reviewed. It may be necessary to re-legalise them to reduce or to completely out-compete smuggling thereby releasing more wool for sale through the formal marketing channels.

Government should effectively work itself out of the marketing structures. Some farmers are known to dislike LPMS because they see them as an agency designed to make profit for the Government. The marketing of wool and mohair should be handed over to WMGAs, albeit gradually, and maintenance of shearing sheds and payment of staff thereof would effectively cease to be the responsibility of government.

Synthesis of the development ease studies

Since the early days of Basotho nationhood wool and mohair have been major sources of income for rural farmers in many regions of Lesotho, especially in the remote mountain areas.

Hence government has had to erect structures for the continued growth and development potential of Lesotho's most important export product. The programmes by necessity had to include policy issues on range management and small stock production, infrastructure and marketing, amongst other considerations.

Production and productivity have remained low because of overstocking and overgrazing and the ineffectiveness of the chieftainship institution in managing the range according to the provision of the regulations which essentially give them authority to put in place proper management of this resource. Farmers must assume their share of the blame for the status quo because of a reluctance to adopt and put into practice recommended management approaches especially the use of improved studs, culling and improved feeding packages.

Shortage of staff has also played a significant role. Government institutions have failed farmers and the country's economy by not providing this essential training service. This has made the effectiveness of livestock extension services dubious, given the calibre of personnel providing it.

Very little research has been done on the fibre-producing small ruminants of the country and no new technologies have emerged from the research division of the Ministry of Agriculture. Here again the reason given is that there is a shortage of staff and finances to fund research projects.

References

Anonymous. 1987. Livestock production. Lesotho agriculture policy issues. Unpublished report.

Bureau of Statistics. 1988/89. Sheep Flock Sizes. Lesotho Agricultural Situation Report. pp. 52

Bureau of Statistics. 1989/90. Sheep and goat reproduction rates. Lesotho Agricultural Situation Report. 55:60.

Bureau of Statistics (BOS). 1989/90. Number of sheep and goats by zone. livestocks census. Tables 10-2: 10-3.

Department of Livestock Services. (various years) Annual reports

Hunter J.P. 1987. Economics of wool and mohair production and marketing in Lesotho. pp. 59-155.

Lekatsa M. 1990/91 Domestication of sheep. Lecture notes. Lesotho Agriculture College.

Ministry of Agriculture. 1966. Progressive farmer scheme Annual Report.

Motsamai B. 1990. Management of communal range resources in Lesotho. Unpublished report.

Weaver C L and Sekoto M G. 1991. National Range Management Area Programme. Community Based Natural Resource Management 2. Unpublished report.


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