Mohair market set to shrink

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Bereng Mpaki

Lesotho’s wool and mohair industry may take a serious financial after top global apparel manufactures recently banned the fabric citing animal brutality during harvesting.

The ban follows a recent expose by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that has been circulating on social media.

In the video footage taken in South Africa and published on You Tube on 1 May 2018, goats and sheep are filmed during shearing where some are injured while others are killed.

PETA is the largest international animal rights organisation in the world.

It focuses on the four areas in which the largest number of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: the food industry, the clothing trade, laboratories, and in the entertainment industry.

PETA’s exposé, which encompasses 12 South African farms visited in January and February of this year, shows workers dragging goats by the horns and legs and lifting them off the floor by the tail.

In the video, PETA lobbies consumers of the fabric to shun it to ensure that animal brutality is ended as it is in violation of South Africa’s Animals Protection Act of 1962.

“Baby goats were left screaming in pain and fear on the shearing floor, all for mohair sweaters and scarves,” says PETA Director of Corporate Affairs Anne Brainard.

“PETA is urging shoppers to check clothing labels carefully and, if it says ‘mohair,’ leave it on the rack.”

Following the video that was published on You Tube on 1 May this year, brands that include GAP, H&M, Zara and Topshop announced that they had banned the fabric.

Lesotho has over 40 000 wool and mohair farmers while the fabric is estimated to earn about M60 million every year from about 500 000 mostly angora goats.

“For us it is of utmost importance that animals are treated well and we have therefore decided to permanently ban mohair,” H&M said in a statement on the CNN Money website. The company said the change would be made by 2020.

Arcadia Group, which owns UK retailer Topshop, said it “was concerned” about the video showing “poor treatment” of the goats.

“We have therefore committed to stop sourcing any new goods containing Mohair,” the group said in a statement published by CNN Money.

Other brands that were reported to be intending to ban mohair from 2019 are Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy.

Relebohile Mahloane, from the Animal Welfare section in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Safety, said local farmers are required to sign forms which declare that they adhere to three sets of private standards prescribed by the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO).

IWTO is a global authority for standards in the wool textile industry. The three standards include social responsibility, animal welfare issues and environmental awareness.

“Every consignment that leaves the country has to be declared that it has complied with these standards, however the question is whether our farmers actually comply or not,” Dr Mahloane said.

For her part, the chairperson of Duma Wool and Mohair Growers Association from Mafeteng, ‘Malimpho Mohono said the development could spell hunger and poverty for the farmers.

“The decision is going to hurt us financially, as you may be aware that mohair fetches higher value than wool, so it will be a huge knock to our livelihoods,” Mrs Mohono said.

She further indicated that animal abuse is not part of their rearing culture and if it happens, such situations are accidental rather than regular practice.

Mrs Mohono fears that if the development is not remedied soon they could be stuck with fabric with no buyers. Many mohair farmers around the country currently in the middle of the shearing season.

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