Livestock Production and Rural Development in Lesotho
A Historical Analysis of Wool and Mohair Industry (1850s – 1980s)
Keywords:Rural development, livestock production, weaving industries/enterprises, wool and mohair, export performance.
It is argued by some scholars that many Basotho farmers reared livestock mainly for prestige, and not for economic purposes. Although this argument holds, the contribution of livestock production to rural development in Lesotho has been very significant since the colonial period. Both Colonial and Post-colonial Lesotho governments introduced different agricultural programmes and policies to improve livestock production in the country. Improvement in Livestock production allowed Basotho to use livestock for different purposes such as farming, performing cultural ceremonies, trading and many others. Besides providing people with the means of sustenance, livestock production, especially sheep and goats are the main sources of wool and mohair which has been the main export to the international market since the colonial period. Marketing of wool and mohair ensures that Basotho farmers earn some income to maintain their households. In addition, the sale of wool and mohair on the international market brings in foreign exchange into the country that also increases the national income. Besides integrating Lesotho into the international market, wool and mohair farmers supply small local weaving industries with some raw materials for processing of different items. These small scale weaving enterprises also export the finished products to the world market. This paper is a historical analysis of this important yet neglected industry since the mid-19th century to the late 20th century and the role it has played in rural development.