Building Competitiveness for communal farmers through developing the wool value chain in the Free State Province of South Africa


In collaboration with The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), our research and community project focus on building competitiveness for communal farmers, through developing the wool value chain in the Free State Province of South Africa. The overall objective of the project is to transform communal woolgrowers’ production from an underachieving enterprise to a profitable, sustainable, and renewable venture.  By including community-processed wool, job creation and development becomes a pivotal part of the project, playing a vital role in supporting the South African National Treasuries’ strategy. 

Over the past 30 years, there has been a major shift in agricultural markets and the international trade of agricultural products. The world is moving from local and national markets towards a global system of trading, which means that neighbouring farmers working on small plots of land may be competing with large industrial farmers from another country in a single marketplace. In developing countries, there is increasing pressure on farmers to commercialise their operations. 

In order to meet the drive for greater commercialisation, new skills must be developed to support the farmers in becoming better entrepreneurs.  Assistance towards infrastructure must be provided; and furthermore the needs of farmers and other actors in the value chain, like market access, identified and catered for.  For the farmer, this includes working with fellow farmers to develop farm plans, as well as working with various levels of farmer organisations, from groups to cooperatives, in areas of market analysis, financing, sales and building business opportunities for farming clientele. In light of the aforementioned, the agricultural sector must be assisted in all possible ways to shift its focus from mere subsistence farming, as is still the case in many parts of the world, to sustaining the lives of millions of people on the planet. 

The South African wool industry is in a privileged position and has many opportunities for growth. Wool prices are doing remarkably well, and economists and wool buyers believe this trend will continue due to international market demand exceeding the supply. Furthermore, the creation of niche products from the wool will add to the existing value chain, creating more jobs and an opportunity for enlarging the export market.


Veeplaas (Afrikaans)
Veeplaas (English)


The  RUFORUM project has an active social media page where products can be ordered.

For more information regarding the research programme, please contact Dr JW Swanepoel.



Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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