Nkopane Nkopane, a merino sheep farmer and producer from the Qachaâ€™s Nek district in Lesotho, is a champion for raising rams for the production of quality wool.
He was announced the wool and mohair champion in the ramsâ€™ category at the annual Wool and Mohair exhibition by the Southern Mountain Association for Rural Transformation and Development (SMARTD) in Semonkong.
SMARTD is involved in activities aimed at improving wool and mohair production in the country to make Lesotho a top-quality wool and mohair producer.
Nkopane told Seahlolo that one must be prepared to spend a lot of money to succeed in producing the required standard of wool/ â€˜Farelaneâ€™ -the Sesotho name for merino sheep.
â€œPeople who want to get into the wool and mohair business should be patient because before you can make the money, you must incur a lot of expenses first and have put in the work too,â€ Nkopane said.
â€œI buy animal feed for my sheep from Maseru, and this costs me about M4,500 monthly inclusive of transport. This is not worrisome to me anymore because the revenue I make from the business is good. One ram is sold at an average price of M15,000 in the market and my turnover is mostly about M30,000 from selling merino sheep,â€ he explained.
He added: â€œSelling merino wool generates around M50,000 for me when I have sheared at least 120 to 150 sheep.â€
Since January this year, Nkopane has sold 15 rams at an average price of M15,000 each.
He noted that another secret in producing quality merino sheep lies in acquiring the right breed of hybrid merino rams, correctly feeding them and also regularly treating them for any diseases.
As the winner of the exhibition, Nkopane received two bags of sheep pallets, sheep vaccination, a protein block, and a trophy.
Benda Zoakala, a livestock supervisor from the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Marketing, was impressed by the level of knowledge demonstrated by the sheep farmers from Semonkong, which is in the highlands of Maseru and TÅ¡enekeng, in Qachaâ€™s Nek district.
He attributed this to the positive impact of SMARTD within the two areas.
â€œThere are however, some challenges that I have picked while inspecting the sheep and those included farmersâ€™ lack of financial muscle to buy the right feed for the sheep, as well as acquiring the right medication for their livestock.
â€œSome of the sheep that did not qualify because they are not fed well or given medication on time,â€ he added.
On his part, Ntsoebe Mosoeu from SMARTDâ€™s livestock department said the exhibition turned out well, given their mission of helping Basotho farmers to become top wool and mohair producers.
â€œThe exhibition is meant to create a platform where farmers from different associations and communities come together to share ideas on how to improve their wool and mohair production so that they can also compete on national and international exhibitions and win,â€ Mosoeu said.