Government boosts  Ngqatyana woolgrowers
Intergovernmental efforts between the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform and Mbhashe Local Municipality have catapulted Ngqatyana woolgrowers to a commercial level with a fully-fledged sheep shearing shed.
The R600 000-worth shed was built by the local authority in the 2020/21 fiscal year for 35-member association of Ngqatyana Wool Growers Association who had been shearing their sheep on informal structures.
To professionalise the farmers, DRDAR supported the Ngqatyana woolgrowers with shearing equipment worth R103 000. The equipment includes a wool compressor, baling machine, trolleys, sorter, shears, tables and shearers.
MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Nonkqubela Pieters handed over the equipment to the woolgrowers for use on Tuesday [October 5] in Ngqatyana Village.
Pieters said the quantity of wool the farmers produced each season proved that with a touch of professional equipment they can produce world-class wool.
“Nina nenza lento urhulumente ayifunayo –qala ngalonto encinane unayo, uncedo luzakufumana endleleni,” she said.
“We are operating with limited resources  therefore working with other spheres of government  and other stakeholders is critical.   This fiscal year it is your turn to benefit from your government as it was the case to others in the past.
Today we are giving you a steppingstone to add value in your wool –shear, sort, compress and bale at your own convenience.
This equipment will propel you to a commercial level where you will participate meaningfully in the world’s economy because most of our wool is shipped abroad,” added Pieters.
The Eastern Cape is listed among the producers of top class wool in the world.
The shearing equipment complements another initiative by DRDAR where the provincial department aided the Mbhashe Local Municipality woolgrowers with Merino sheep rams under its Livestock Improvement Scheme meant to improve the genetics of livestock of developing farmers.
 Merino sheep are known for the quality of their wool and woolgrowers of Ngqatyana were among the beneficiaries of the Livestock Improvement Scheme.
Chairperson of Ngqatyana Woolgrowers Association, Mpumelelo Bhalindaba said this was going to be their first shearing season since they received the rams.
“I can safely say from today onwards, we are professional business people in wool production. The days of shearing on muddy surfaces with substandard equipment that tend to lower the quality of our wool are over now,” said Bhalindaba.
 Government is continuously intervening with relevant service delivery to improve the livelihood in Xhora .
“In the past shearing seasons we have made a profit of more than R4 million across the Mbhashe Local Municipality. With the equipment we have received, surely our bottom line as the Ngqatyana Woolgrowers Association will improve,” he said.
Ngqatyana Woolgrowers Association sell their wool to one of the country’s wool specialists –Cape Mohair and Wool (CMW).
Treasurer of the 14 women member association, No-Ayini Sikhundla added that the equipment they received would make the shearing process easier and faster.
DRDAR didn’t only support the woolgrowers with shearing equipment, but the department trained the beneficiaries on professional wool production and continues to render veterinary support to the farmers to help maintain their flock.
The department has also forged partnerships with private industry players in a bid to further develop the communal woolgrowers.