The Eastern Cape has been dubbed the “mohair capital of the world” with very good reason – more than half of the mohair on the planet is produced in the province.
With a yield of 2.5 million kilograms per year, South Africa has secured its place as the world’s largest producer ahead of African neighbours Lesotho.
The bulk of the country’s clip comes from Aberdeen and the rest from Murrysburg, Jansenville, Grahamstown, Middelburg, Cradock, Kirkwood, Rietbron and surrounding areas.
A new trend has seen farming also move into the western regions, including towns such as Oudtshoorn, De Rust and Heroldt.
Taking raw mohair and turning it into clothing fit for the catwalks of Milan does not happen overnight.
Angora goats are shorn about twice annually, from where the mohair is transported to a brokerage house like BKB or Cape Mohair and Wool (CMW).
Here prospective buyers inspect the mohair before it is sold on an open-cry auction.
A small percentage of the mohair is sold unwashed to countries like China, but the rest is processed through the mills of companies like Stucken or Samil.
Once the mohair is washed and combed into tops, a large proportion is exported to countries like Italy, England and Japan. The tops are spun into yarn, which is used to weave fabric for the clothing industry.
In South Africa, a portion of the tops is used to create velour for the upholstery industry. A lot of knitting yarn is also produced and exported to countries like America where there is a big demand for knitting wool.
Other products manufactured locally and abroad include socks, carpets and even paint rollers.
Mohair has become very popular in the textile industry as it is light, warm, does not crease or burn and is very durable.
The first Angora goats roamed the South African veld almost two centuries ago. These animals were imported from Turkey in 1838 via India by Colonel John Henderson, a former British officer.
The rams were rendered infertile by the Turks, but, fortunately, one ewe gave birth to a ram kid during the voyage to South Africa and that is where the first local Angora flocks originated.
The South African Mohair Growers’ Association (Samga) was established to protect the interests of the 900 mohair producers in the country and to promote top quality mohair.
As mohair is a primary agricultural product, the organisation supports local producers by identifying new research projects.
Samga also identifies problem areas, including animal health, and therefore has appointed an industry veterinarian to assist producers with free health advice and post mortems.