IWTO says the trump card remains quality wool


Approaching the end of 2021, the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) Round Table hosted a marathon four-day session via Webex. This annual event brings together the global wool supply chain to discuss the issues facing the industry and share insights and developments.

During the recent South African (SA) chatroom session, the director of the South African Wool and Mohair Buyers’ Association (Sawamba), Paul Lynch, made use of the opportunity to remark on the current competitive prices in the country. He attributed this to the market for sustainably produced wool, which provides a good return on investment for producers’ fibre.

In the South African arena

Isak Staats, general manager of wool and mohair at BKB, promptly gave an overview of the SA wool industry and painted a picture of where the SA fibre industry finds itself now.

He reiterated the fact that SA has been experiencing an unprecedented drought in the western parts. Half of the country’s wool is produced in this region. On the subject of wool certification, such as the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), Staats discussed the implementation of a scoring system for traceability (cross-platform integrated traceability).

“Cape Wools South Africa is, as an independent trust source, at the forefront of constantly developing a traceability system and exploring what real traceability means,” he says. “One can’t talk about sustainability without traceability.” On the front of regenerative farming, Isak conveyed that this holistic approach is set to become the next ‘big’ thing in SA.

Dr Annika Capelán at Aarhus University shared a presentation on holistic sheep farming, followed by Sarah Cromhout of The Herding Academy who discussed holistic livestock and game farming methods in conjunction with each other.

Another speaker, the president of Merino SA, Adrian McNaughton, farms in the Graaff-Reinet region. He believes the Merino breed has a bright future and exchanged some details about sheep breeding practices in SA.

While there is a definite shift towards polled animals, he went on to describe the modern Merino breed as a plain bodied and highly fertile dual-purpose animal that produces quality fine wool.

Adrian furthermore relayed key information on current industry norms, such as the fact that the average Merino ewe now weighs an astonishing 60kg, while rams weigh on average between 90 and 130kg.

In his closing statement, Paul observed that wool-producing countries are all in the same boat going into the same direction. He said that other fibres will take down the wool industry if there is no collaboration between industry role-players. The president of the IWTO, Wolf Edmayr, touched on the same subject by saying: “Wool producing countries must stand together to ensure that the industry recovers from the strange times we live in.” – Carin Venter, AgriOrbit

For more information, send an email to IWTO’s secretary general, Dalena White, at white@iwto.org.