Fibre metrology and its importance in Wool Measurement and Marketing (part 4)

lamb pellts




  1. Wool Constraints in Accessing Markets


Wool and other animal fibres are expensive for most people in LDCs, these commodities are therefore integrated in global markets of developed countries.  The mentioned market offers potential for rapid growth, but trade barriers to some key developing countries imports have made it hard for LCDs to take full advantage of this opportunity.  The world poor are always faced with tariffs which exceed their financial muscles.   As found by IMF (2002), market protection through the mentioned trade tools carries a high price in both industrial and developing countries. The repercussions come in the form of distortions and other complications.  The agricultural markets are among the most heavily distorted.


4.1 Smallholders are faced with a number of constraints in marketing their wool as articulated by Khapayi et al (2016) that, small farmers,

  • Are faced with high transport and freight costs in taking their produce to the market
  • Lack marketing skills and information and are therefore depending heavily on intermediaries
  • Operate in poor infrastructure to harvest, grade and store their wool for the market
  • Also lack modern technology and skills to expand and increase production to meet market demands, hence they shy away from contractual marketing
  • Lack education levels required to interpret vital market information and the high transection costs delivered by banks and the brokerage companies
  • Do not have funds or strong supporting system available for farmers to research for new emerging niche markets
  • Face difficulty in accessing formal agricultural markets as a result official markets do not interest this calibre of farmers
  • Inability to attract youth to the industry is a crisis since youth may have initiative to change negative market factors individually
  • Lack of credit access, absence of innovative production and skills seriously needed by the farmers for market accessibility and platform to be equipped with marketing knowledge.
  • It is found that Governments have critical role to play in increasing market participation of small farmers through encouraging group marketing and levelling the local marketing play grounds. 4.2 Challenges for natural textile fibres are increasing at an alarming rate, the recent one’s are as listed below in their order of importance, severity.  The wool industry survives through these difficulties by being innovative and timely responsive to the arising and foreseen trials. 

    Wool contributes <3% to the total textile fibre consumption in the world and as such faces stiff competition between other eight animal fibres, four plant fibres and seven major man-  made or synthetic fibres.

    Carbon foot prints is a new environment challenge which considers and measures the amount of carbon released to the atmosphere due to a particular activity of production, processing and transportation of the commodity to the market.  Products producing low green house gases (GHGs) including carbon are the most favoured in todays’ market place.

    Organic wool production certification is the recent challenge in agricultural wool production.  It encompasses environmental aspects, social impact, safety and sustainable agriculture and ecological production on top of the list.  In wool production, this certification translates into none use of chemicals such as pesticides, anthelmantics, uncertified commercial feeds and humane keeping and treatment of sheep on good farm conditions. The reason for consumers and other related organisations to advocate and encourage organic wool is to ensure harmless and non-destructive practices to the environment through agronomy and livestock farming activities.  Also to ensure provision of commodities of safety and quality to the market place and consumers.  Argentina, Uruguay and New Zealand are leading the world in production of organic wool. What quantity??


    Environmental factors, animal welfare, labour safety and social responsibility are important elements considered by consumers of animal fibres.  The activists organisations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals {(PETA) has more than 6.5 million members in the world} are the watch dogs which have the strong lobbing power to pressurise growers and the wool industry not to threaten the environment and treat animal and labour in inhumane manner.  Great bans have been placed on Australian wool for mulesing the lambs in reducing treatment for blowfly, China rabbit fur is on the line for the practice of plugging this fibre from rabbits.  South Africa has been found guilty in 12 sheds by bad handling of goats during shearing in 2018 season.  The ban for the rabbit hair and mohair products in the latter two countries is scheduled to be effected in 2020.


    Lesotho farmers should be on the alert to assert ways of addressing the mentioned threats and challenges.  The Code of Good Practice Manual has been acquired from South Africa Wools in 2008 by LNWMGA Office and was translated into Sesotho to enhance clarity by Alotsi and Ramokuena (2009).  During presentation of this document there was a lot of misunderstanding, defence and the anility of the document that its contents is facing the advanced wool producing countries.   To the surprise of the local farmers, two years down the line Lesotho wool consignments had to be declared that wool exports from this country is not produced from mulesed sheep.  Even today such declaration is part of paper work for export wool to reach its destinations.


    The obvious threats to Lesotho fibre products is that of child labour and safety of shearing sheds operations (health & safety & social responsibility), denudation of pastures and grazing areas (destructive farming practices to the environment) and poor nutrition (violation of five freedoms of animals) of sheep and goats.














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