Writes Tjonane Matla
Our cartoonist posed a question in our last edition, “who is going to be the youngest participant in the 10th World Merino Conference 2018?”
A 7 year old Uruguayan girl named Belen Notejane was picked by the Silo Editor as the youngest participant of the 10th Conference during the technical tours in the farms. These pre-conference and post conference tours were organised by Uruguayan Merino Breeders.
We should remember that during the 9th World Merino Conference in Stellenbosch – Human Willemse, who was 15 years of age at the time was the youngest participant.
The young girl was spotted several times observing or handling Merino sheep on her own several times at different farms during stock examination and presentations by farmers. We started engaging with her through an interpreter, who communicated in Spanish and learned that she loves animals and normally helps out while handling the animals at her parents’ farm. In Uruguay working with the whole family, grandparents, parents, boys and girls is a norm, and not a man’s job or juvenile only. Everybody works and that is actually how children learn, and that is how farms are easily sustained from one generation to the other. But far more than that, one or two of the farmer’s children is sent to study formally about animal production or veterinary science. Uruguay farmers are highly technical, their success is directly linked to their level of education and quality of private consultancy farmers acquire from private extension.
On the very last technical tour, after really showing interest in the little girl for more than a week, Fernando Notejane, father of Belen gave me a local magazine where his daughter was featured, an act that really enabled me to conclude that we had really picked a special talent. Belen at age 7, is steering, not only her farm into prosperity, but we can safely predict a very bright future for Uruguay as a whole, as this practice appears to be a common practice.
Tom Ashby, former WFMB President describes Roberto Cardellino as the graduate of several world Merino conferences, and kindly let us share what Roberto had to say in response to our questions!
Editor – We saw a lot of youth involved in the value chain of the wool industry here. What sort of programs made to enable this? (Both from family, society and government initiative).
Roberto – There are specific activities developed for young people interested in these topics. If you are interested I can inform you in more detail. We should organize a course in English in Lesotho!!! Why not?
Editor – Does the association have a link of programs with the universities, colleges or have extended programs with the youth?
Roberto – There are specific educational programs which are funded by the government.
Editor – What sort of programs are in place to involve youth in this industry?
Roberto – There are for example programs for young shearers and wool classers that can be organised, as well as other programs regarding general knowledge on sheep and wool topics.
Editor – The wool shearing and wool shearing gangs are they also part of the curriculum in schools? Or just for the industry?
Roberto – I responded to this in the earlier question, remember that there are specific programs for young people wanting to form shearing gangs. During my days, when I was still working for I was SUL I had under my supervision these courses.
Editor – From your long experience in this industry, what are the key things that you want to see happening in the Uruguay wool industry?
Roberto – Improvements in the productivity of flocks, increase the quality of wool produced according to market requirements (for this it is necessary a very good market information report be available to the producers), a better classing and presentation of the wool clip.
Editor – Are you happy with the 10th Conference?
Roberto – Very happy: Very good visits, very good conferences, lots of foreign visitors (including you) and very warm social relationship. We love to receive foreign people and treat them well.
Editor – Do you think Uruguay displayed to the best of their ability?
Roberto – Yes I think so. We have shown you what we are.
Editor – What areas do you think are a strength for Uruguay, and think they can be of assistance to Lesotho?
Roberto – We have a lot of experience in training courses in wool production, shearers training, wool classing, and wool market information. We have a very close relationship with the 4 Uruguayan top maker plants, so they send the producers a clear message on what to do in order to get more money. I think that there are very good opportunities for a closer relationship with Lesotho, to learn what their problems are, and to help Basotho farmers to solve them