IFAD, Lesotho to empower small-scale wool, mohair producers.

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The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Kingdom of Lesotho recently joined forces to launch the Wool and Mohair Value-chain Competitiveness Project (WaMCoP). This ambitious seven-year initiative will transform the lives of 225,000 rural inhabitants, bolstering both economic and climate resilience in the region.

Aiming to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, WaMCoP will focus on empowering traditionally underrepresented groups in the sector. Notably, women, who have historically been excluded, will constitute 50 percent of the project participants, while youth will represent 35 percent, IFAD said in a media release.

WaMCoP is valued at $72 million. With a significant $20.2 million contribution from IFAD, along with substantial support from the OPEC Fund, GEF, the Government of Lesotho, the private sector, and project beneficiaries, the project promises to revitalize the crucial industry.

The project is set to initially target Mokhotlong, Maseru Rural, Quthing, and Thaba Tseka districts, known for their significant wool and mohair production and high poverty levels. Plans are in place to eventually expand the project’s reach to encompass the entire country.

Lesotho, renowned as the world’s second-largest mohair producer, relies heavily on this industry, with wool and mohair accounting for 60 percent of its agricultural exports and supporting over 25 percent of its rural populace. However, challenges such as climate change, unreliable input supply, and poor land conditions have impeded production.

To combat these issues, WaMCoP will introduce innovative approaches, including a partnership with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, to reinvigorate the cottage industry and establish sustainable market linkages. The project will also focus on implementing a responsible production certification system, adhering to global market standards, and introducing traceability, thereby enhancing Lesotho’s global standing and market competitiveness, the release added.

Furthermore, WaMCoP will establish a revolving fund to provide farmers and value chain actors with access to input supply and in-kind loans. A Wool and Mohair Fund and Enterprise will also unite all value chain players, ensuring the sector’s long-term viability.

“IFAD has been a key player in the development of the wool and mohair value chain in Lesotho, but for the country to retain its global standing as a producer of good quality wool, there is a need to address the demands from the global market,” said Edith Kirumba, IFAD country director, Lesotho. “WaMCoP is very timely as it will help the country to continue building the sector, while addressing the new market demands through innovative approaches such as traceability, ethical and responsible production, thus allowing small-scale farmers to participate in the global market system.”

Since 1980, IFAD has invested $112.4 million in 12 rural development programs and projects in the Kingdom of Lesotho worth a total of almost $322.9 million. These projects have directly benefitted 339,720 rural households.

 

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