2016 EC Communal Woolgrowers' Assoc. Congress

The 5th East Cape Communal Woolgrowers Association (E.C.C.W.G.A) Congress, which was held on 25 August at Wittenbergen shearing shed in Sterkspruit was introduced by the cries of Sotho poetry to the approximately 1 500 attendees.  Loud and extremely fast-paced words were echoed by farmers who waited for proceedings to commence.  NWGA East Cape chairperson Andile Ndzendze opened his chairman’s report with “Ek praat Afrikaans – ek praat baie daai taal!  He said that they are still awaiting promise for additional rams to the 3 000 which are distributed annually, pleading with Dept. Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) and district municipalities to supply an additional 3 000 to bring total to 6 000 in 2017.  He referred to the very few production advisors servicing communal farmers and said that those foot soldiers are needed.  He elaborated on the success of the 5 roadshows which proved very informative and thanked the sponsors.

Ndzendze said that taking into consideration that woolled sheep farming in the Eastern Cape provided the largest income to communal farmers, shearing sheds and associated infrastructure are imperative for development.  Specific challenges relating to grazing (kampstelsel), management systems and fencing for camps were again mentioned.

Flock competitions were held to measure animals against those of other farmers and regions.  Fortunately it did not rain otherwise the competition would not have materialised at Tsolo Agricultural College.  Request that infrastructure at agricultural colleges be maintained and improved.

Talitha Pharma presented Andile with a certificate of goodwill for everything he has done and is still doing for communal wool farmers.

The following resolutions were discussed and directed to Dept. of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) as well as Dept. of Rural Development and Land Reform.  Mr. M Gcasamba, Chief Director:  Rural Development and Land Reform were present to reply to resolutions.

Land distribution

Whilst there are available farms, slow implementation and inefficiency of allocation process, regardless of existence of formal structures such as DLRC (district land reform committees), farm leasing by current beneficiaries, lack of monitoring and evaluation system in place on the side of government, allocation of poorly resourced or lack of equipment and farm infrastructure remains challenges.

CONGRESS recommends the identification of ram breeding farms, managed by communal farmers, as a form of genetic improvement.

Mr. M Gcasamba, Chief Director, EC Rural Development and Land Reform replied as follows:

  1. Reason why land is wrongfully given to farmers by the department is because some farmers are untruthful about the criteria stipulated for ownership, such as number of sheep owned.
  2. Each municipality have selective committees to address land reform, therefore farmers from a particular region need to apply within its own district municipality – do not venture and apply in other districts.
  3. Another reason for slow implementation and inefficiency of allocation process is the fact that there is no consistency in departmental officials due to fact that they are always moving to other departments. However the department undertook to train officials in the management of land reform affairs.
  4. Regarding the additional rams for genetic improvement, he said that he heard at a previous occasion about the request, but because he has been mandated to this inter regional congress, he undertook to take the matter forward.



  1. Thanked government for role they placed in the construction of some shearing sheds. However, many wool grower associations are still operating from their homes, exposing wool to contamination and theft. 
  2. Acknowledged the important role Cape Wools SA played in distributing shearing shed equipment to communal farmers in 2010, 2014 & 2016. This had a positive impact on the quality of wool clip, but the demand is far greater.
  3. Requested that more dams are constructed; the scooping of existing dams; fencing of grazing and arable land for ease of veld management and construction of access roads.

Mr. Gcasamba elaborated on the proposed functions of Agri Parks:

  • Have machines that can manufacture own wool packs.
  • Look into centralised packing facility where wool would be gathered in order to reduce wool theft. Funds are available to purchase a truck, but committee needs to be appointed in order to organise it in a structured manner.
  • Upgrading of wool store in Butterworth in order to store wool.
  • Eastern Cape is the largest meat producing province therefore Agri Parks have the intention to look at the exportation of meat. Anticipated projects, which includes processing etc.
  • Regarding the state of agricultural colleges such as Tsolo, he will make sure that Andile Ndzendze be invited to point out which state sheds need to be upgraded and exactly what infrastructure are required.

Animal health

Congress requested the EC veterinary directorate for a:

  1. More efficient livestock record keeping practice to curb stock theft and facilitate easy control and monitoring of animal diseases.
  2. Plan to control zoonotic and contagious diseases.

Mr. Gcasamba said that the presentation of courses for farmers at agricultural colleges as well as record keeping and financial management of own livestock will be done in conjunction with the needs of farmers.

Guillau du Toit, NWGA national chairman was overwhelmed with the number of people attending the congress which is evident of their interest in wool sheep farming and hunger for information.  He congratulated the East cape chairman, Andile Ndzendze with the successful proceedings with limited infrastructure and encouraged farmers that it doesn’t matter how small their enterprise, they all form part of the woolgrowers and the South African clip.  He thanked the NWGA production advisors and partners for training and development in this area and urged DRDAR to assist in expanding the personnel base as it decreased from 8 – 2.  He encouraged them to be part of this success story whereby the wool income of communal farmers increased to R240 million in the last 12 years.  He discouraged farmers to buy rams from elsewhere, because it will not improve the genetics.  “Your only responsibility is to manage the process, namely by ensuring that you have healthy sheep, producing good lambs and good quality animals”, Du Toit said to farmers.  He further discouraged farmers not to sell wool to speculators, thereby ensuring that all the wool goes through the formal market, thereby building the South African clip.  He handed over Bibles with the intention of placing a Bible in each of the respective shearing sheds in the surrounding areas.

The Congress adjourned with the undertaking of Mr. Gcasamba to bring the Minister personally to Inter Regional Committee at a suitable date and time.


2015 Inter regional congress of EC Woolgrowers

More than 1 000 people attended the 4th Inter regional congress for communal farmers earlier this month.  Farmers from the 5 wool producing regions in the Eastern Cape gathered at the Nosimo shearing shed in the Ndakana village near Stutterheim to discuss the improvement of genetics, stock and wool theft, as well as infrastructure. These have been identified as the most important challenges of communal farmers.  Important guests included the Honourable MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Mr Mlibo Qoboshiyane, executive mayor for the Amahlathi Local Municipality, Mr Peter, the regional director for DRDAR in Amathole, T Boko, the Chairman and CEO for Cape Wools SA (CWSA), Geoff Kingwill and Louis de Beer as well as the CEO for the NWGA, Leon de Beer and Louis du Pisani, National Manager for Production Advice and Development.

A strong plea towards DRDAR for the secondment of an additional 20 extension officers was heard as the current 5 NWGA production advisors are not in a position to service the needs of all wool producers in the Eastern Cape. 

The East Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform announced that approximately R11 million will be allocated in the coming book year for livestock improvement in rural areas of the province.  The MEC, Mlibo Qoboshiyane said that the funding will be spent in addition to the 3 000 rams which were distributed to communal farmers under the ram project of the NWGA.  “This is an indication towards the commitment of government to cooperate with the private sector to allow rural farmers to be part of the main stream of the economy”, Mlibo said.

Radio-onderhoud - 2015 Kommunale kongres

September 2015 - Leon de Beer gesels met Algoa FM (Agrifocus) oor die vierde kongres van die Kommunale Wolkwekersvereniging van die Ooskaap wat naby Stutterheim deur meer as 1 000 mense bygewoon is. Hy sê die NWKV as produsente-organisasie moet hom nie net posisioneer om 'n verskil in die landbou te maak nie, maar ook 'n verskil aan mense se lewens, deur 'n omgewing te skep waar elke wolboer in die land tot die beste van sy vermoë sal kan boer.  Luister hier.


2013 EC communal woolgrowers hold congress

Was held at Nobhokwe shearing shed, Cofimvaba on 5 September 2013 in the Chris Hani District Municipality.  Congress was graced by the presence of ANC Secretary General, Mr. Gwede Mantashe as the guest speaker.  Many officials from the Dept. Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) were in attendance, including Ms. Zoleka Capa, MEC, Mr. Masebeni, Chief Director and District managers Mr. AK Zono (Chris Hani), Mr. Gcasamba (Amathole) and Mr. Swart (Joe Gqabi).  Chris Hani District Municipality Executive Mayor Mr. Koyo and his office were present and local municipalities Intsika Yethu, Emalahleni and Ngcobo were also represented by their mayors.  Approximately 1 000 delegates attended including woman and youth.  Congress was chaired by Mr O.Z Ntshakaza (Executive Committee Chairman).

In his speech, Mr. Mantashe remarked that progress is jeopardized due to insufficient or no infrastructure (fencing) in rural areas and should urgently be addressed.  Farmers should also invite the MEC for DRDAR to meetings to discuss their problems with her and should the MEC not respond, he be informed and that he will personally, as Secretary General of the ruling party, the ANC, take up the matter.  After the opening prayer, the chairman’s report was read and was Congress reminded that wool growing associations (Communal) were established in 1995, when region 20 was formed, but have now grown into 5 regions (Regions 20, 21, 23, 24, 25).  The following resolutions were discussed:

Genetic Improvement: Mr Macanda who responded for DRDAR said 70% of the Department’s budget went to other projects especially into grain, only 30% to livestock, that is why the NWGA could not get rams from Department.  Mr. Leon de Beer, General Manager of NWGA gave figures of rams introduced during the past 11 years and thanked the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) for their intervention.  The distribution of 3 000 rams per year is actually a drop in the ocean and much more is needed to make an impact.

Problems animals:  Mr Leon de Beer (NWGA) informed Congress that they are doing their best to help communal farmers and two courses on predation were planned for two regions, one on the 10th September 2013 at Old Idutywa Region 20 and Ndindwa at Middledrift, Region 21 on the 11 September 2013. 

Wool And Stock Theft: Dr Pieter Prinsloo from EC RPO advised farmers to report all cases of stock theft to SAPS and come to them (Red meat) with cases numbers if there are no feedback.  He further explained that there are cases where policeman are involved and in other cases, prosecutors delay the process.   He further advised farmers to get rid of vehicles who buy wool in the villages (Boya-Boya) as this also encourages wool theft.

Value adding: The executive Mayor for Chris Hani, Mr Koyo said they have contracted CSIR to do a feasibility study on how they can establish a place where wool can be washed in the Eastern Cape-Chris Hani District.  This report has not yet been released.

Infrastructure: No clear response except that Comprehensive Agricultural Support Program (CASP) from DRDAR is earmarked to assist farmers but has been focussing on cropping projects.  Livestock infrastructure will be considered in the future.

Land Tenure:  Land distribution was a thorny issue because of allegations that land is given to people who don’t use it and only people with political connections benefit.  Mr. Gwede Mantashe replied that there are a dire need for land towards farmers who fulfil the pillars of ability, commitment and passion.  He further emphasised that no rams can be bred on small portions of land and that fencing is necessary.  He urged district municipalities, DRDAR and Executives to identify farmers who have those qualities and consider them for opportunities.  The issue of land is very critical and need to be addressed urgently.  He furthermore promised Congress that land grabs like Zimbabwe will never happen in South Africa.

Mr. Koyo of Chris Hani informed Congress that Chris Hani has already embarked on livestock improvement, which involves purchasing of rams, bulls, building of shearing sheds, dipping tanks, fencing and handling facilities.

Agricultural Schools: MEC for DRDAR Ms Z. Capa showed Congress a copy of a letter from Pretoria, which will allow students to register in 2014 for Animal health at Fort Cox College of Agriculture and Tsolo Agricultural College which was not recognised before.  Mr. Ntsabo emphasised that before a school is opened, consideration should be given to aspects such as a qualification board who evaluates the need and quality of education.  He referred to the approval of 2 schools, namely Arthur Mfebe High School at Intsika Yethu as well as Phandulwazi in Alice.  There is a proposal for agricultural schools in Matatiele and Pondoland. 

Sponsors and presentations:  Acknowledgement and gratitude towards generous sponsorships from Talitha Animal Health, Zoetis Animal Health, Cowden Animal Health, CMW/Sinethemba Mafama, BKB and Molatek Feeds.


New Zealand assisting communal farmers

KwaZulu Natal producers were given a demonstration on the preparation of sheep shears at the Lourdes shearing shed in Umzimkulu, KwaZulu Natal, earlier this month.  It was conducted by Allen Gemmell, who runs the private New Zealand organisation Gemmell Wools as part of an aid programme to provide specialist training in blade shearing and wool handling skills to communal sheep farmers and instructors in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal.  The aim is to improve skills and increase the income of these farmers.

The programme is funded by the New Zealand government, which has committed NZ$1,2million (around R10 million) over three years.  Training is carried out in conjunction with South Africa's Agricultural Sector Education Training Authority (AgriSETA) and the National Woolgrowers' Association (NWGA).  The programme has already resulted in farmers increasing their incomes through practices such as pressing their wool more efficiently and increasing bale weights.


Predator management course for communal farmers

Niel Viljoen, well-known predator control expert, recently presented a predator-management training course to 33 communal farmers at Middledrift and Idutywa. The course focused mainly on the management of jackal and caracul, although stray dogs also cause stock losses in these areas.  Farmers were requested to take cell phone images of animals attacked by predators in order to determine which predator was responsible and to start keeping record of losses and damages. In most cases farmers would not know which animal attacked their sheep.  By analysing the cell phone images or videos, farmers will be able to choose the appropriate control method.  Niel also demonstrated how to set gin traps for trapping jackal. He stressed the importance of properly trained people setting up these traps.  The different methods for controlling jackal and caracul were explained and farmers were shown how to catch caracul by using trapping cages.  Although traps and trapping cages are necessary for predator control, communal farmers often lack the funds for buying these devices.





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