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South African wool producers have expressed their relief following the news published last week that brought an end to the ban on the exports of South African wool to China. This announcement was made by DALRRD (the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development) on 23 August.

The Minister of Agriculture, Ms Thoko Didiza said that government had welcomed the decision by the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China to lift the ban on the wool and other cloven-hoofed animals’ skin products imported from South Africa. This ban had been imposed in April following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in South Africa’s Northwest, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo provinces.

The annual South African wool clip is valued at around R5 billion and approximately 75% of all South African wool exports are destined for the Chinese market. If the ban on these exports had continued, the South African wool industry could potentially have suffered significant losses of approximately R734.15 million in revenue.

South Africa currently produces over 42 million kilograms of wool from 8 000 commercial sheep farmers. The industry also includes 40 000 communal farmers who contribute about 14% of the total wool exports.

The timing of this announcement is significant as a continuation of the ban would have affected both last year’s wool harvest and the current harvest which is currently underway. This would have meant that the industry would lose the income from two seasons’ worth of exports.

Article by Jacques Burger

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