Opinion Piece


South Africa is a world leader of mohair production, which is arguable the best and most prestige form of fibre in the fashion and clothing industry. Within South Africa, the Eastern Cape Province, areas of the Karoo are the main areas where angora goats are thriving. It is also equally important to note that our neighbour, Lesotho also a major producer. Lesotho, had a challenge with its marketing structure of its mohair (and wool) which was in the news for some time. 

How South Africa become a dominant force in global mohair market

The history of the arrival of angora goats in this country is very interesting. The recorded history outline that the first number of these goats came from Turkey. Interestingly, during that time their trade was managed carefully by those who wanted to keep these precious goats to themselves. The first number of goats to be shipped to South Africa had to be castrated and fortunately the female (ewe) goat was already pregnant and was not noticed. It is said that that ewe gave birth to a male kid. While it seems that some in-breeding may have happened from that point other sets of goat’s imports were imported.

Presently, South Africa (the Karoo region) is home to the highest number of angora goats. A big thanks need to be given to the South African Mohair Grower’s Association (SAMGA), Mohair Trust, South African Wool and Mohair Buyers Association for growing and developing this industry. The mouth piece of the Mohair industry is Mohair South Africa. The number of angora goats increased from 720 000 in 2010 to 832 000 in 2019. The mohair harvested from these goats during the same period declined from 2,3 million kg in 2010 to 2,1 million kg in 2019. It is important to note that the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 saw good harvests at 2,45 million k. and 2,48 million kg. The drought conditions in the production area is the major reason for the decline couples with focus to finer and more qualitative mohair products, which shift the production technique from quantity to quality of the mohair produced.

Mohair Goats

Changing dynamics in mohair production

The matter of ethical trade cannot be understated as it brought a lot of challenges following the unannounced visit of a civil society organisation that produced a videos clip that brought the industry to its knees. The unethical practises (by few producers) that were portrayed shook the industry. As a result, Mohair South Africa had to do international brand recovery and assurance of ethical practises. That gave birth or prominence to the Mohair Sustainable Standards. The industry did provide assurance that what the video portrayed was not an industry way by few isolated cases that would be addressed accordingly.

Transformation: The industry has a record of the number of goats owned by historical disadvantages groups. The number of goats these farmers owned in 2010 was around 372 and in 2019 the number increased to 5597 goats. The total number of kg of mohair harvested increased from 1 302kg to 13 993 kg.

Concluding remarks

Mohair remains one of the products that South Africa produces, and a world leader. The industry has a long and a rich history. Transformation is starting to take good shape. Mohair Sustainable Standards are an assurance to the world buyers that good practises are the only way of mohair production.

Article by : Mr Bonani Nyondo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Mzansi Agriculture Talk or its members.

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