Islamabad: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Monday here hosted a demonstration of a mechanical sheep shearing system designed to modernize shearing practices in Balochistan.
The new equipment cuts down the shearing time six-fold and produces higher quality wool. “Improved shearing processes will enable farmers to sell wool to better-paying markets, and therefore, to earn more income,” says David Doolan, FAO manager for the USAID-funded Balochistan agriculture project.
Wool industry is an important source for incomes and jobs in Balochistan, which has an estimated 12 million sheep and earns $5 million in annual revenues from wool clip.
With funding from USAID, FAO is helping Balochistan farmers in remote communities to adopt modern wool-related practices, such as classifying colour-graded wool, grading fleeces, washing wool before sale, and producing even-length fiber through mechanical shearing.
FAO is also helping women earn more income through activities women can do from their homes. FAO estimates that these improved practices can increase the revenues of Balochistan wool industry to $20 million a year.
The demonstration was attended by Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research Sikander Hayat Khan Bosan, representatives of USAID, AusAid, and other donor organizations, officials from the National Agricultural Research Centre, and media.
Guests saw a comparison between shearers using manual and mechanical shearing methods. While traditional approach takes 45 minutes to shear a sheep, the mechanical equipment shortens the task to less than seven minutes.
Equally importantly, the new equipment produces more even, longer fiber which is of higher commercial value. “I use these new shearing techniques to shear my own sheep, and now I can sell my wool rather than give it way,” says farmer Khair-ud-Din, project beneficiary from District Musa Khel.
The demonstration included a mobile shearing shed which was designed and produced by FAO in cooperation with Pakistani manufacturers. The shed has four shearing stations and can be operated by a team of 7 men – 4 shearers, 2 roustabouts, and a maintenance mechanic.
FAO has arranged importation of the necessary hand pieces though a local business in Quetta and has constructed a grinding machine to keep the combs and cutters sharp.
A cadre of Master Shearing Trainers has been trained in Quetta to offer the skills to anyone interested in purchasing and operating the mobile shearing shed on a commercial basis. FAO has also developed a business model to support the adoption of this new technique.
During the event, the prototype mobile shed was handed over to the Government of Pakistan for introduction and replication throughout the country.