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The Mohair Empowerment Trust: Relationships that empower

The Mohair Empowerment Trust emphasises the importance of commercial farmers’ involvement in all of the projects it takes on.

It relies on the mentorship provided by successful Angora goat farmers, to grow the knowledge of government placed graduates in the industry, as well as to mentor newly established emerging farmers.

The Wienand family’s support, encouragement and willingness to assist where necessary inspires the Mohair Empowerment Trust. Over the past few months, several projects of crucial importance to the development of black farmers and students have owed their success to the Wienand family’s assistance.

Brett Wienand, along with his sons Mark and Charles, has been closely involved with emerging farmers in the Somerset East area. The Wienands have been farming Angora goats since the 1940s. They believe their contributions to other farmers, especially emerging farmers, build on the success of the entire mohair industry. They have made substantial contributions to every Mohair Empowerment Trust farming project by donating breeding rams. In addition, they have hosted groups of agricultural college graduates looking to learn more about stock farming and the mohair industry.

Beauty Mokgwamme, manager of the Mohair Empowerment Trust, engages with farmworkers during a training day in Jansenville.
Building strong relationships
Beauty Mokgwamme, manager of the Mohair Empowerment Trust, said she is very appreciative of what the Wienands have done for the Empowerment Trust and the entire mohair industry. “In recent months, their family has become more like partners to me than just farmers who offer assistance now and then. We have built a comfortable relationship and I hope to see it continue to grow,” said Beauty.

She also hopes to build more relationships such as this in other parts of the mohair production region, as it offers unique opportunities for expanding the Mohair Empowerment Trust. “If you know you have people who are willing and able to assist, it makes it easier to expand around them. Strong relationships with more commercial farmers in the broader mohair region are crucial to the success of the Mohair Empowerment Trust.”

In August 2019 Mark jumped at the opportunity to have four graduates spend a week with him during one of the most crucial times on any Angora goat farm – kidding season. “We’ve always been keen to have students spend time on the farm with us. We try to show them as much as possible and having them here during kidding was a great learning opportunity. In future, I hope to see these students achieve great things because I sincerely believe they have every chance of succeeding in agriculture,” said Mark.

Teaching emerging farmers about top genetics
In March 2020 the Wienand family donated 20 breeding rams to the Mohair Empowerment Trust. Each of the ten current farming projects received two rams to improve the genetics of their flock.

Besides improving the quality of each farm’s mohair, Beauty also saw the ram donation as a way of teaching the emerging farmers about top genetics and giving them something to aspire to. The Wienands also took a special interest in the empowerment farming project at Brakfontein Farm, due to a close connection with the Saleni family who runs it.

Ntwintle John Saleni started working for the Wienand family around the same time Brett took up the reins at the family enterprise. His son, George Saleni, ran the empowerment project on behalf of their family. However, when Saleni junior tragically passed away in a car accident earlier this year, his father had to leave Brett’s employment and take up the position left vacant by his son’s passing.

“There will always be a close connection between the Wienands and the Salenis. We hope to see that relationship grow even stronger now, to the benefit of both farms and families, as well as the entire mohair industry,” said Beauty.

“I hope to see younger generations of farmers become involved. They need to form part of our structures and play an active role in the development and future of the Mohair Empowerment Trust,” she added. – Riaan Marais, Mohair SA


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