Bumper year for East Cape wool farmers

High production numbers, good auction prices and massive demand from overseas markets contributed to a landmark year for the South African wool trade – with the Eastern Cape as the top contributor.

Wool growers produced more than 50 million kilograms of wool in the 2016-17 season, and prices ranged between R100 and R180 a kilogram – figures that cemented this season as one of the best the industry has seen in decades.

National Wool Growers’ Association (NWGA) general manager Leon de Beer described it as an outstanding year. “Despite the drought, our wool-producing regions received enough rain to keep production figures up.

In addition, South African wool is considered among the best in the world, so there is a growing demand for our product. “Our sector also has a lot of great cooperation between commercial and emerging farmers.

Our emerging farmers also celebrated record figures, and they competed with international markets alongside our commercial farmers,” he said. This indicated great growth and transformation in the wool industry, De Beer said. More than 60% of South Africa’s wool is exported to China, while the rest goes to countries such as India, Egypt, Italy and the Czech Republic.

The Eastern Cape contributed 35% of the countr y’s total production. The Barkly East region produced 1.076 million kilograms of wool, making it the province’s largest producer and third largest in the country.

Tink Strydom, vice-chairman of the NWGA and a wool grower from Barkly East, said stock farmers who kept more than one type of livestock adapted easily, selling off cattle and sacrificing meat production to add more wool sheep and increase production in that area.

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