Improving the livelihoods of wool producers in a sustainable manner by optimizing the woolled sheep production systems within the communal farming area of the Eastern Cape. “A vision that is future directed”
The main objective of the NWGA is to improve both the quality and quantity of wool produced in the communal wool sheep farming areas of South Africa. Shearing sheds in the communal area were divided into three performance categories namely top, average and bottom sheds. This finding has led to two questions: Why and where do they differ? Can something be done to improve the performance of the sheds? A total of five (5) top, five (5) average and seven (7) bottom sheds were selected to collect data from 179 respondents. The socio-economic data is always important to indicate clearly who the respondents are. The average age of respondents is 59.46 and 64% male and 36% females. There are more members in the top sheds than in the other two categories. Although a large number of respondents can read and write, the majority do have only a qualification at the lower level. A total of 83% of the respondents do have some years of experience in sheep farming. Respondents in the top shed have significantly more sheep, cattle and goats than respondents in the average and bottom sheds. Significantly more farmers attend the top shed meetings than farmer members in the other two categories. A total of 39% respondents indicated that good sheep health control will lead to higher wool production and the most common diseases as perceived by respondents are Sheep scab, Blue tongue and internal parasites. Burr/weeds and paints are the two most important objects of wool contamination. Significantly more sheep are sheared in the top sheds, they pack more bales and the weight of the bales is higher than in the average and bottom sheds. Farmer’s most important needs are financial issues, farm infrastructure and they need more land. To improve the profitability and productivity of wool sheep farming at all shearing sheds within the communal farming area. A specific extension program addressing the specific needs will be presented to farmers in each of the three shearing shed groups.
Keywords: communal wool sheep farmers, farmer’s needs, perception, knowledge, extension program