Commodity study: Wool production by small-scale farmers
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Small-scale wool production, especially in former bantustan areas, has the potential for significant expansion and ongoing and successful farmer support should be expanded. The small proportion of sheep and wool farmers in bantustan areas who are prepared to relocate to private land, preferably in nearby districts with similar physical and climatic characteristics, should be one priority for support through land redistribution programmes. The success or failure of expanded production and class mobility should be measured over the medium to long term, including over multiple generations and may depend on ongoing and effective support programmes. New employment opportunities are likely to be modest, especially as there is very limited processing of wool before export. Farming for wool is extensive farming, optimally with low turnover but decent margins, compared to dairy farming which may also be extensive but is high in turnover with low margins. Net farm profit is a useful indicator of success or failure, rather than turnover. It may also be useful in defining emergent farmers. Net farm profit may be very different from household income as a measure of wealth/poverty and inequality. This is especially so in trust land areas where livestock and livestock products may constitute a small component of household income or a component used as savings or reserve capital for annual expenses, family events and emergencies.