IFAD and Lesotho partner to support small-scale producers increase the value of their wool and mohair

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By Panagrimedia Correspondent, January 29, 2024, A new financing agreement aimed at improving the livelihoods of wool and mohair farmers was signed recently by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Kingdom of Lesotho by correspondence. The new project aims to increase the economic and climate resilience of 225,000 rural people.

The seven-year Wool and Mohair Value-chain Competitiveness Project (WaMCoP) will promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and help create private sector jobs. It will be particularly important for women, who typically are not involved in the sector but will make up 50 per cent of the project participants, while youth will account for 35 per cent.

“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 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,” she added.

Wool and mohair play a significant role in Lesotho’s rural economy, accounting for 60 per cent of agricultural exports and supporting more than 25 per cent of the rural population. Lesotho is the second largest mohair producer globally.

The project will initially focus on Mokhotlong, Maseru Rural, Quthing and Thaba Tseka districts, which produce the highest quantities of wool and mohair and have high levels of poverty. Eventually it will be scaled up to the rest of the country to reach more rural people. It will build on achievements made by the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP).

In Lesotho, the bulk of these fibers are sourced from small-scale farmers. Unfortunately, climate change, unreliable input supply, overstocking, and poor land and rangeland conditions are impacting their production. These challenges are further compounded by lack of coordination, absence of a certification system, lack of data for policy and planning, limited capacity to address new market demands and insufficient access to finances for small-scale farmers.

WaMCoP will use innovative approaches like partnering with Ethical Fashion Initiative, to help re-conceptualize the cottage industry in the country and establish sustainable market linkages for intermediary and finished wool and mohair products. This will not only help the national fashion industry but also build a Basotho brand for wool and mohair fibers.


The project will support the government and value chain players to set up a responsible production certification system, in line with the global market guidelines. Certification will introduce traceability to assist buyers to verify and identify wool and mohair produced in farming systems. This will not only ensure Lesotho retains its global ranking and its competitiveness in the market, but will eventually contribute to increased incomes for the farmers.

The project will also establish a revolving fund to help farmers and value chain actors access input supply and in-kind loans. In addition, a Wool and Mohair Fund and Enterprise will be set up to bring together all value chain players to help govern the sector and ensure its long-term viability.

WaMCoP is funded by IFAD US$20.2 million, OPEC Fund US$20 million, GEF US$6 million, Government of Lesotho US$8 million, private sector and project beneficiaries US$7.3 million for a total project size of US$72 million. A financing envelope of US$11.8 million is open to new and interested financiers.

Since 1980 IFAD has invested US$112.4 million in 12 rural development programmes and projects in the Kingdom of Lesotho worth a total of almost US$322.9 million. These projects have directly benefited 339,720 rural households. Read more about our work in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

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