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Differences by geo-climatic zone in the economic returns from wool productivity and quality in Lesotho - Effet des différences géoclimatiques sur les rendements économiques et la qualité de la laine au Lesotho


Abstract
Résumé
Introduction
Geo-climatic zones of Lesotho
Implication of zonal differences for small ruminant production and development
Conclusions and recommendations
Reference

John P. Hunter
Soil and Water Conservation and Landuse Co-ordinating Unit
Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC)
Maseru, Lesotho

Abstract

This report presents an analysis of data obtained from a survey of approximately 1700 sheep at shearing sheds throughout Lesotho during the 1987/88 wool shearing seasons. It focuses specifically on regional differences in wool productivity and quality, the factors accounting for these differences and on the implications of these differences for farmers' wool returns and for livestock development policy.

Résumé

Ce rapport présents une analyse des données rassemblées dans le cadre d'une enquête effectuée au cours de la campagne 1987-1988 au Lesotho sur environ 1 700 moutons tondus dans des ateliers de tonte. L'auteur met en particulier l'accent sur les différences régionales observées dans la production et la qualité de la laine, les facteurs à l'origine de ces différences et leurs conséquences pour les politiques de développement de l'élevage et le revenu tiré de la laine par le paysan.

Introduction

Wool and mohair are the most important outputs, by value, of Lesotho's agricultural sector and are strategically important to Lesotho's economy. Over 20 per cent of the value of agricultural output can be attributed to wool and mohair sales alone and, if the value of the joint products of sheep and goats (skins, meat and offspring) were taken into account, their contribution to the agricultural economy would be even greater. To farmers, wool and mohair sales constitute their largest single component of domestically generated monetary income. A study of the Sehlabathebe Range Management Area showed that 75% of the gross cash income generated by livestock was generated by sheep and goats and that they still contributed the major proportion of income even if all cash and non-cash livestock income were included (Lawry, 1986). The 1985 Livestock Holders Survey found a similar pattern nationally (Swallow et al, 1987a). Lesotho's wool and mohair exports comprise over 43 per cent of the value of all exports and, since the decline of diamond production in the early 1980s, have been the largest export items. In addition to their role in generating income, the purchase of sheep and goats provide an important investment outlet for migrants' savings and, as such, are a major repository of rural wealth. At mean 1989 sale prices of 104 maloti per sheep and 80 maloti per goat, Lesotho's small ruminant flocks represent a total value to their owners of some 254 million maloti (approximately US $100 million).

Livestock keeping and migrant labour are close complements in the rural Lesotho economy. The rapid increase in livestock numbers and the enthusiasm shown by Basotho for Merino wool and mohair production in the early 20th Century followed the transformation of the Lesotho economy from one exporting grain to regional markets to one exporting labour to South African mines and farms. Since, unlike crop production, extensive livestock production does not require adult male labour (it can be undertaken with adolescent herders), it thus permits men to absent themselves from the farmstead for-long periods. Livestock and migratory labour are complementary in other ways, as well. They provide a ready (and in many cases, only practical) form of investment for a migrant's savings which can be liquidated in times of need or upon retirement. Livestock are normally a very profitable investment: research in 1985/86 found that, on average, Lesotho cattle, sheep and goats paid a real rate of return of between six and ten per cent (Swallow et al, 1987b). Changes in product prices have recently altered these rates of return but, for the most part, they are still well above the rates paid by most alternative investments available to rural Basotho and, like any good investment, they provide current income and capital appreciation. This income is but a subsidiary to a rural household's main income source from wages, however. Data from the mid-1970s from the Thaba Tseka Mountain Development Project and the Phutiatsana Irrigation Project indicate that only about 30% of a typical rural household's income is derived from all domestic sources, with agriculture accounting for about 60% of this. Two-thirds of this agricultural income (or 12% of the total) is contributed by livestock (van der Wiel, 1977). Thus, livestock-derived income provides an income supplement which may make a household's well-being easier and more secure but it is the rare, and invariably very poor household, which is reliant, solely or largely, on livestock for its existence. Although, according to rural surveys, farmers are not indifferent to the low productivity of their livestock (Hunter, 1987), they may have neither the labour resources nor sufficiently strong incentives to do much about it.

Added to the socio-economic constraints on livestock production are a variety of ecological constraints. Lesotho's harsh winters take their toll on livestock condition with adverse effects on survival, reproduction and fleece quality. According to Range Management Division estimates (Chris Weaver, personal communication), the commonly owned range is about 40% overgrazed and able to provide only relatively meagre nutrition to the animals grazing on it. The rugged terrain hinders livestock marketing which, in turn, makes culling difficult. As a result of these constraints, livestock productivity is low. In an attempt to better evaluate this low productivity with an aim to designing more effective improvement programmes, some 1700 sheep and 2000 goats were sampled at a cross-section of government and private shearing sheds throughout Lesotho during 1987/88. Animals and fleeces were weighed, age and sex were determined, and samples of wool and mohair were taken from the side fleece for further laboratory testing. This paper analyses some of the regional disparities in wool production revealed by this effort. Additional results and data on mohair production, as well as research procedure and methodology may be found in Hunter (1990a and 1990b).

Geo-climatic zones of Lesotho

Lesotho is conventionally divided into four geo-climatic zones (World Bank, 1985). Tables 1 and 2 provide basic statistics on these regions. Along the western and southern edge of the country, below 1830 meters in altitude, lie the lowlands. This zone is relatively flat and contains most of the arable land, about 43% of the rural households and virtually all of the urban population. Over 50% of the harvested maize land and 57% of the harvested land devoted to sorghum in Lesotho is in the lowlands (BOS, 1987). Because of the urban concentrations, the lowland zone contains most of the employment opportunities and is more economically diverse than the other zones. This zone is often divided, on the basis of mean annual rainfall, into sub-zones (de Baulny, 1981). The northern lowlands (NL), roughly from the Maseru-Berea District border northwards, normally receives between 650 and 850 mm of rainfall per annum. The southern lowlands (SL), south of this border, is rather drier-receiving a mean rainfall of between 600 and 750 mm per annum. Some areas, such as parts of Mafeteng and Mohale's Hoek districts may receive less than 650 mm per annum.

Table 1. Land-use pattern in Lesotho region.


Cropping

Livestock grazing

Others

Lowlands

53

33

14

Mountain

14

80

6

Foothill

35

55

10

Senqu river valley

25

70

5

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Lesotho (1988).

Table 2. Distribution of rural households and livestock by region, Lesotho (%).


Rural households

Sheep

Goat

Cattle

Lowlands (LL)

43

17

19

32

Mountains (MTN)

20

68

44

37

Foothills

25

8

22

22

Senqu river valley

12

7

15

9

Source: BOS (1987); Bureau of Statistics, Maseru, Lesotho, unpublished data.

The Mountain (MTN) zone comprises about 60% of the total land area and lies above 2130 meters. Rainfall is highly variable in this zone, ranging from over 1000 mm per annum in the higher elevation along the front range of the Maluti and northern Drakensberg to about 600 mm on the fringes of the Senqu river valley (de Baulny, 1981). Summers are short end winters may be bitterly cold. As a result of both the rugged terrain and the short growing season, there is relatively little arable land in this zone, although field crops are possible in protected valleys. A little over 80% of the land, mostly rangeland, is devoted to livestock production. Although the mountain zone contains only about 20% of the rural households, they own 68% of the sheep, 44% of the goats and 37% of the cattle in Lesotho (Table 2). Virtually all adult rural males engage in labour migration at some point in their lives but, according to data from several development projects, the mean length of a mountain male's migrant career (20 years) is almost 20% shorter than that of his lowland counterpart (van der Wiel, 1977).

The Foothill (FTL) zone lies between the lowland and mountain zones at an altitude of 1830 to 2130 meters and comprises about 10% of the total land area of the country. It receives rather higher rainfall than the Lowland areas: most of this zone gets between 800 and 950 mm mean annual precipitation (de Baulny, 1981). As in the lowlands, maize production predominates, followed by sorghum and beans. While as economically diverse as the lowlands, the foothills' close proximity to the lowland zone gives it economic opportunities that are lacking in the mountains and Senqu river valley.

The Senqu River Valley (SRV), which divides the mountain zone, lies in a "rain shadow" and receives the least rainfall of all zones: normally between 500 and 600 mm per annum (de Baulny, 1981). It contains only about 11% of the country's total land area. Only slightly less so than in the mountains, the land is devoted overwhelmingly to livestock grazing (Table 2). Although maize production utilises the largest proportion of the harvested area, sorghum production is relatively much more important in this zone, as befits its rather drier climate.

Implication of zonal differences for small ruminant production and development

These differences in zonal resources and characteristics have a number of implications for the productivity of small ruminants and the quality of their fleeces. The much higher population density and relatively small proportion of the land area devoted to grazing means that lowland village grazing areas are under heavy pressure. Although this can be relieved to some extent by taking livestock to seasonal mountain cattle posts, survey data from the 1985 Livestock Holders Survey suggest that this practice is not as common as is often supposed (Swallow et al, 1987a). Of the 250 sheep-owning households surveyed nationwide, 54% kept their sheep in village grazing areas or dry-lots year round. This involved about 50% of the sheep in the survey. Examination of the raw data indicates that these practices are somewhat more common in the lowlands than in the other areas. Distances are often long between lowland villages and their mountain cattle-posts. Trekking costs, in terms of time and lost animal condition, are high. In addition, the distance may make careful management by the owner difficult, thus increasing the threat of loss by theft. Finally, the higher per flock costs of keeping smaller lowland flocks at cattle-posts may encourage their being kept year-round near the village. Thus, because of poorer grazing resources, lowland flocks are relatively small and unproductive. Small flocks mean, in turn, that selective breeding is more difficult and the use of improved breeding stock is less cost-effective. Also, because lowland residents have a number of alternative domestic income-earning options, such as crop production or wage employment, their flocks are less important to them as income earners. Mountain residents, by contrast, have few alternative domestic income-earning options to livestock. Because of this, livestock ownership is more widespread, flocks are much larger and the better pastures in this zone provide a more solid foundation for a livestock industry. On most counts, mountain flocks are much more productive and much higher income earners than flocks from other zones.

The dominant sheep breed in Lesotho is the wool Merino. Table 3 summarises the zonal differences in mean measures of wool productivity and quality. The superiority of the MTN and NL zones in wool production is particularly evident in their higher greasy fleece weights and clean wool yields and in their longer staple lengths.

Table 3. Zonal differences in wool productivity and quality.

Mean characteristic

Lesotho

NL1

SL

SRV

FTL

MTN

Shorn body wt (kg)

31.4

29.9

29.5

30.8

29.3

32.3

Greasy fleece wt

2.6

2.5

2.4

2.2

2.1

2.9

Clean oven dry yield (%)

53.3

54.2

48.4

52.8

54.1

54.1

Clean fleece wt (kg)

1.4

1.4

1.2

1.2

1.1

1.6

Staple length (cm)

6.4

6.5

6.2

6.0

5.7

6.8

Crimps (per inch)

16.2

15.4

16.3

17.0

15.5

15.6

Fibre diameter

20.0

19.5

20.1

19.5

20.0

20.2

Note: All measures are for adult (2-teeth and older) Merinos.
1. NL = Northern lowlands; SL = Southern lowlands; SRV = Senqu river valley;
FTL = Foothills; MTN = Mountain.

The clean-yield measure (the proportion of clean wool obtained from a unit of greasy wool) is of particular importance since wool is sold in the clean state and yield is generally rather low. The SL and SRV - the driest and dustiest areas of the country-register the lowest yields. Along with the FTL zone, they also have the poorest mean greasy fleece weights. The multiple of these measures, the clean-fleece weight, looks especially poor for these zones. Generally, the SL and SRV produce 26% lighter clean fleeces than the MTN zone. The FTL zone performs even more poorly-producing an average clean fleece only 43% as heavy as the MTN zone. Compared to the second-best wool producing area, the NL zone, these poor productivity areas produce about 15% lighter clean fleeces per sheep.

In addition to the purely quantitative differences, differences in the qualitative measures are also important. Although there are little differences in mean fibre diameter (all are fine), there is a statistically significant difference (at the 95% level) in staple lengths. Since this is a key determinant of wool style or type, this affects the quality and, hence, the wool price offered. In general, sheep from FTL and SRV, in particular, produce markedly shorter (12% and 16%, respectively) staples than those from MTN. Indeed, FTL staples are an average of one centimetre shorter than MTN staples.

While these differences in mean measures highlight some marked zonal differences in productivity and quality, these averages conceal several important distinctions. To highlight these, it is necessary to focus on the distribution of these measures within each of the zones. This is done in the next section.

Clean wool fleece weights

Table 4 focuses on differences in the distribution of the quantitative measure of clean fleece weights. Over 40% of the fleeces in the two poorest wool-growing zones, FTL and SL, weigh less than one kilogram. In the SRV, the intermediate zone, 36.5% fall into this category. By contrast, only about 23% of fleeces in the two best zones are below one kilogram in weight.

Table 4. Zonal distributions of clean wool fleece weights (per cent by class).

Weight classes

Lesotho

NL¹

SL

SRV

FTL

MTN

1. <0.75 kg

9.9

6.9

15.0

9.1

16.8

8.0

2. 0.75-1.00 kg

19.3

15.9

26.6

27.4

26.6

15.1

3. 1.00-1.25 kg

20.3

24.8

28.3

29.6

20.7

16.3

4. 1.25-1.50 kg

16.5

19.3

15.0

16.1

16.8

16.3

5. 1.50-2.00 kg

17.8

19.0

13.4

14.5

15.2

19.7

6. >2.00 kg

16.2

4.1

1.7

3.3

3.9

24.6

1. NL = Northern lowlands; SL = Southern lowlands; SRV = Senqu river valley; FTL = Foothills; MTN = Mountain.
Note: All measures for Tables 2, 3 and 4 are for adult 2-teeth and older) Merinos. Lesotho figures are weighted averages of zonal figures. Columns may fail to add to 100 because of rounding.

While these two zones have relatively few low-weight fleeces, they have a high proportion of relatively heavy fleeces. Almost 45% of MTN fleeces weigh over 1.5 kg and almost one-quarter of them are over 2 kg in weight. No other zone has more than 5% as heavy. Although NL does not score as high in heavy-weight fleeces, almost 45% of its fleeces are over 1.25 kg in weight.

Wool staple length

Wool's style or type is largely determined by the length of its staple. Longer (combing) wools are more suitable for weaving and use in the worsted trade while shorter (carding) wools are used for knitting. Normally, the longer wools fetch higher prices. Table 5 presents the zonal distribution of sample staple lengths. As with clean fleece weights, the superiority of the MTN and NL zones is evident. Almost one quarter of the fleeces have staples falling into the longest class and almost 70% of MTN fleeces and over 60% of NL fleeces have staples 60 mm or longer. By contrast, none of the other zones have more than 12% of their fleeces with staples 75 mm or longer and only about 45% are over 60 mm. Fortunately, very few fleeces have staples of less than 30 mm and, with the exception of FTL and SRV, the incidence of clearly definable carding wools (i.e. less than 45 mm) is not great.

Table 5. Zonal distributions of wool staple lengths (per cent by class).

Length classes

Lesotho

NL1

SL

SRV

FTL

MTN

Class A: >75 mm

18.8

23.5

10.1

12.0

11.0

23.0

Class B: 60-75 mm

41.9

37.5

44.5

33.9

30.4

46.8

Class C: 45-60 mm

30.9

28.7

34.5

41.0

40.9

26.1

Class D: 30-45 mm

7.7

8.8

9.2

13.1

16.6

4.0

Class E: <30 mm

0.7

1.5

1.7

0.0

1.1

0.2

1. NL = Northern lowlands; SL = Southern lowlands; SRV = Senqu river valley;
FTL = Foothills; MTN = Mountain

Staple length is not the only factor determining whether or not a wool is suitable for combing or carding. Tenderness, which can cause breakages in the wool, can also cause a longer wool to be unsuitable for combing. No data exist on the degree of soundness in Lesotho's wool although the extreme nutritional stress from Lesotho's cold winters combined with the added stress of reproduction, suggest that it is likely to be particularly problematic for ewes. It may also be more prevalent in lowland village grazing areas, as well.

Wool fibre diameter

A key component of wool quality is its fineness measured by mean fibre diameter. This is also a key determinant of a wool's price. In general, all of Lesotho's wools are fine (all of the zonal mean fibre diameters are less than 20.5 microns) and this accounts for their generally good market acceptance. By general agreement within the trade, however, this fineness is less the result of genetics and more the result of the poor nutrition offered by Lesotho's overgrazed range. Because of this, it is often referred to as "hunger-fineness".

Despite this general fineness, there is some zonal variation in the distribution of fineness classes. This is evident from Table 6.

In this measure, the performance of the two best zones diverges. The second-best NL zone has over 70% of its wool in the two finest categories and very little in the two coarsest classes. The MTN zone, by contrast, has less than 60% in the finest and almost 20% in the coarsest classes. Two reasons for these differences suggest themselves. One may be nutritional. Despite the relatively high rainfall in the NL zone and its close proximity to mountain grazing, high population density in this zone may restrict grazing, particularly in village areas, and make the impact of hunger-fineness more acutely felt. The other may be an unintended effect of the 50-year-old Livestock Department programme of supplying improved rams to farmers for breeding. Although these are supplied at cost, they are only cost-effective when put to relatively large flocks and, as a result, they go disproportionately to MTN stock keepers. Rams are selected for body conformation, size, fleece weight, and staple length but rarely for the fineness of their wool. As a result, many of the rams are characterised by medium to medium-coarse wools. The higher proportion of coarser wools in the MTN zone may be the effect of this breeding policy.

Table 6. Zonal distributions of wool fibre diameters (per cent by class).

Diameter classes

Lesotho

NL¹

SL

SRV

FTL

MTN

1. <19.5 microns

45.8

51.0

42.9

54.3

48.9

42.9

2. 19.5-20.5 microns

16.4

19.6

20.6

16.3

15.9

15.4

3. 20.5-21.5 microns

14.0

18.2

15.1

17.9

13.7

12.5

4. 21.5-22.5 microns

8.9

8.4

7.9

5.4

8.2

10.1

5. 22.5-23.5 microns

6.2

2.1

9.5

3.8

5.5

7.1

6. >23.5 microns

8.5

0.7

4.0

2.2

7.7

11.9

1. NL = Northern lowlands; SL Southern lowlands; SRV = Senqu river valley;
FTL = Foothills; MTN = Mountain

Economic returns

These zonal differences in wool and mohair productivity and quality translate into marked differences in the zonal economic returns from keeping Merinos. LPMS data (from government wool-sheds only) for the 1985/86 wool and mohair seasons were analysed, using ordinary least-squares regression, for zonal differences and for the impact of membership in a Wool and Mohair Growers Association (WMGA) on a grower's economic returns (Hunter, 1987). Results of this analysis are reported in Table 7.

This table refers only to non-WMGA members (73% of sheep owners marketing through LPMS) who own 57% of sheep shearing at government wool-sheds. WMGA membership narrows, but does not eliminate, these zonal economic differences.

Mountain wool producers receive an 18 37% price advantage over other wool producers. Despite the fact that MTN wool is generally rather coarser (stronger) than wool from other zones, the combination of heavier fleece weights, relatively high yields and long staples translate into higher gross incomes per sheep. In this regard, MTN producers have a 25% advantage over the next-best zone, the NL, and a 32-50% advantage over the remaining zones. When the substantial differences in flock size (relating mostly to the different options and opportunities available to the residents of the different zones) are taken into account, MTN flocks earn 3-8 times as much for their owners as flocks from other zones. Although NL flocks generally produce relatively heavy fleeces and relatively high quality wool, the small average flock size probably makes them only marginal-income supplements for their owners.

Table 7. Zonal differences in wool prices and incomes and ranking of rates of return for sheep enterprises.

Mean characteristic

NL¹

SL

SRV

FTL

MTN

Rock size (animals)

20

18

35

36

100

Rock size (index no.)²

32

29

56

57

100

Wool price (index no.)

81

73

85

83

100

Income/sheep (index no.)

80

67

76

76

100

Income/flock (index no.)

19

12

37

34

100

Ranking

2

4

3

5

1

1. NL = Northern lowlands; SL = Southern lowlands; SRV = Senqu river valley; FTL = Foothills; MTN = Mountain.
2. Index numbers are calculated as percentage of Mountain values. Data apply to non-WMGA members only.

Another way of evaluating the economic effect of zonal differences terms is to focus on the rates of return generated by a sheep enterprise. Livestock budgets, originally prepared by Swallow et al (1987b) and updated and revised by Hunter and Carvalho (1990, unpublished) were used to generate zonal rates of return. It was assumed that all zones had similar costs and non-wool returns from livestock. This assumption is probably unrealistic, however. Stock keepers with larger flocks would gain certain economies of scale in herding costs but, because of higher levels of flock management, may spend more on veterinary costs or supplemental feed. Smaller stock keepers may have higher average herding costs but may spend less on other aspects of flock maintenance. From the standpoint of returns, larger stock keepers may have a higher marketed offtake from their flocks than smaller counterparts. However, while these adjustments should alter the absolute magnitude of the rates of return, they probably would not affect the overall rankings. Using 1985/86 data, rates of return to a typical sheep enterprise ranged from 6% in the foothills to 11% in the mountains. The zonal rankings are presented in Table 7.

The extremely close correspondence rankings by both methods is evident. Since 1985/86, wool prices have increased dramatically (although the market has recently reversed). As a result, the average sheep enterprise returned 14.5% on investment in 1988/89.

Conclusions and recommendations

Generally speaking, wool productivity in Lesotho is rather low. Because of the practices of kraaling animals at night and grazing cultivated fields, Lesotho's wool is dirty and clean wool yields are low. Clean fleece weights are also low because of overgrazing and poor nutrition and, perhaps, for genetic reasons. Only 60% of the nation's clip is longer than 60 mm in length for which poor nutrition, genetics and climatic stress are principally responsible. No matter which perspective one takes, whether that of productivity, quality or economic returns, there are clearly identifiable rankings of wool production by zone, however. The MTN zone is unambiguously most favourable to wool production. Fleece weights are heavier, yields are higher, staples are longer, wool prices are higher, and farmers' incomes per animal are larger. The FTL zone, from almost all perspectives, is the worst wool-producing zone. The SRV is an intermediate zone and its performance is, indeed, fairly representative of the "average" for Lesotho. In the lowlands, the SL zone is the second-worst for wool production while the NL zone is the second-best.

Both conceptually and because of data limitations, it is difficult to disentangle the relative effects of genetics and of environment and management on these rankings. From the environmental perspective, village grazing areas in the lowlands are invariably crowded and heavily organised. If lowland animals use mountain came-posts, the trekking between village and highland pastures imposes its own form of stress on fibre production. Although highland pastures are also overgrazed, the quality of their vegetative cover is generally much higher and stocking rates rather lower than in lowland grazing areas. The better nutrition in the mountains contributes to longer staples, larger body mass and higher fleece mass.

Other factors may play a role too. Mean sheep flock size in the mountains is about two to three times larger than in other zones. The purchase of improved Merino rams for breeding is much more cost effective for larger flocks than for small ones. Not surprisingly, most of the improved rams procured by the government from South Africa go to mountain producers. Further, because mountain residents have few alternative domestic income-making opportunities, they are more income-dependent on their flocks and may practice more careful husbandry than their lowland counterparts. Survey results indicate that larger stock keepers are more likely to dose their animals more frequently and more likely to dip them twice as recommended (Hunter, 1987). They also show the strongest commitment to keeping sheep primarily for wool production (Hunter, 1987). Interviews with farmers indicate that many of the larger mountain producers employ adult herders, a practice that would not be cost-effective for a small flock.

According to agricultural census data, there has been a steady reduction over the last 30 years in the proportion of sheep in the highly productive MTN zone and an increase in the less productive SRV and FTL zones. Not only has this shift put increased pressure on grazing areas least able to support them but, other things being equal, it would have reduced overall wool productivity and quality measures.

Although the reasons for these shifts are probably complex and may be associated with the upsurge in economic activity in the lowlands in the Post-Independence era, livestock policy decisions can have an impact on the geographical distribution of sheep in the future. The following policy directions may be worthy of consideration:

a. Wool production in the southern lowlands should be discouraged. Generally, animals in this zone are so unproductive, wool quality is so poor, and flocks are so small that the income received from fibre production is minimal. It is likely that wool production is but a secondary function of livestock production and that repositories for savings and meat production are primary functions. Merinos are not particularly well-suited to either of these latter functions. In this zone, livestock development funds would have a greater impact on farms incomes if they were redirected from wool production to activities with higher potential.

b. Wool production in the foothills should be discouraged also. Development funds would have a higher pay-off if money for wool development were concentrated in the mountains and northern lowlands. Angora goats perform very well in this zone, however, and should receive greater development emphasis (Hunter, 1990b).

c. Although the Senqu river valley is a marginal wool producer, there are limited alternative economic activities for residents of this zone. Therefore, it is probably desirable to continue to direct small ruminant development funds to this zone.

d. Much-discussed restrictions on transhumance movement of livestock from lowland areas to highland came-posts would discourage extensive livestock production in the lowlands. Careful thought should be given to the impact of this restriction on wool production in the northern lowlands, however.

e. Although administrative and enforcement constraints may be large, consideration might be given to a discriminatory grazing fee which imposes higher fees against small ruminants in those areas in Which they are particularly unproductive.

Although wool productivity in Lesotho is generally low, there are zones where performance is reasonably good. Concentrating wool production and Merino development resources, including funds, extension efforts and physical infrastructure in these areas while de-emphasising the low productivity areas would raise overall productivity measures and lead to a more productive utilisation of scarce resources.

Reference

de Baulny. 1981. Anatomy of a drought (November 1979 October 1980): Lesotho. Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Water, Energy and Mining, Lesotho.

Bureau of Statistics (BOS), Lesotho. 1987. 1986 population census. Preliminary results. Bureau of Statistics, Lesotho.

Hunter J P. 1987. The economics of wool and mohair production and marketing in Lesotho. Research Division Report RD- R 80, Ministry of Agriculture, Maseru, Lesotho and ISAS Research Report 16, Institute of Southern Africa Studies, Roma, Lesotho.

Hunter J P. 1990a. Characteristics of Lesotho's wool and mohair. Statistics and analytical commentary. Agricultural Information Services Report R-L-90-2. Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperatives and Marketing, Maseru, Lesotho.

Hunter J P. 1990b. Regional differences in the production of wool and mohair in Lesotho. Agricultural Services Report, Ministry of Agriculture and Marketing, Maseru, Lesotho.

Lawry SW. 1986. Livestock and range management in Sehlabathebe: A study of communal resource management. Land Conservation and Range Development Project and Range Management Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Maseru, Lesotho.

Ministry of Agriculture, Conservation Division. 1988. National resource inventory of Lesotho. Ministry of Agriculture, Conservation Division, Lesotho.

Swallow B M, Motsamai M, Sopeng L, Brokken R F and Storey G. 1987a. A survey of the production, utilization and marketing of livestock and livestock products in Lesotho. Research Division Report R - R-81, Ministry of Agriculture, Maseru, Lesotho and ISAS Research Report 17, Institute of Southern African Studies, Roma, Lesotho.

Swallow B M, Brokken F R. Motsamai M, Sopeng L, and Storey G. 1987b. Livestock development and range utilization in Lesotho. Research Division Report RD-R-82, Ministry of Agriculture, Maseru, Lesotho and ISAS Research Report 18, Institute of Southern African Studies, Roma, Lesotho.

van der Wiel A C A. 1977. Migratory wage labour. its role in the economy of Lesotho. Mazenod Book Centre, Mazenod, Lesotho.

World Bank. 1985. Lesotho agricultural sector review, Vol. II. World Bank, Washington, DC, USA.


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