'China export ban on SA wool is killing jobs, government must step in'

There is no foot and mouth disease in our wool producing areas - Bruce Whitfield interviews Agri SA's Christo van der Rheede.

Sheep before shearing - @ roboriginal/123rf.com

China banned South Africa's wool exports in April this year, due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease disease (FMD) in parts of the country.

The ban is unjustifiable, say Agri SA and the National Wool Growers’ Association of South Africa (NWGA).

They note in a statement that no outbreaks have been recorded in recognised wool producing areas.

Sheep before shearing - @ roboriginal/123rf.com

With the first auction of the season only a few weeks away, "it is essential that Ministers Thoko Didiza (Agriculture) and Ebrahim Patel (Trade) intervene to secure the industry’s access to the Chinese market".

"Failure to act will have devastating consequences for industry’s workers, and for small scale producers in particular."

Bruce Whitfield interviews Christo van der Rheede, Executive Director of Agri SA.

Obviously sheep can be infected, but... in the areas where wool is being produced there are no incidents of foot and mouth disease ... and we've given that assurance to the Chinese. However China has continued to impose this ban...

Christo van der Rheede, Executive Director - Agri SA

We've also assured them, as an industry, that we follow all protocols that they want us to adhere to... We have, together with the Department of Agriculture, tried very hard to resolve this issue, but to no avail.

Christo van der Rheede, Executive Director - Agri SA

The first wool auction for the 2022/2023 season is scheduled for 17 August.

Farmers are sitting with the huge problem that 70-80% of the local clip is traditionally destined for China, van der Rheede says.

The value of this wool is around R5 billion per year.

If we cannot proceed with these auctions, we cannot move the wool and that will have a massive impact on the industry.

Christo van der Rheede, Executive Director - Agri SA

Farmers have already lost almost R734 million due to the fact that they couldn't export to China.

Christo van der Rheede, Executive Director - Agri SA

Van der Rheede says the ban also threatens the livelihoods of the industry’s 35 000 workers, as well as 4 500 seasonal sheep shearers and wool handlers.

Listen to the interview in the audio clip below:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'China export ban on SA wool is killing jobs, government must step in'