MERINO SA (the South African Merino breeders’ society) will host the 9th World Merino Conference in 2014 (Merino 2014).
World Federation of Merino Breeders (WFMB) president Robert Ashby, Hallett, South Australia, said many industry participants would remember the very successful third World Merino Conference of 1990 in South Africa, held in Pretoria.
“Following the success of that conference and the very positive approach coming out of South Africa I am very excited about the prospects for Merino 2014 and the trade mission,” Mr Ashby said.
The four-day Merino expo and conference will be held from April 28 to May 1 in the picturesque university town of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape region, 40km east of Cape Town.
Founded in 1679, Stellenbosch is the oldest town in South Africa, recognised worldwide for its oak-lined streets and whitewashed gabled Cape-Dutch architecture dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The centre of a thriving wine producing region, some of the world’s finest wineries and farm-based restaurants will tempt conference visitors.
Concurrently with the ninth World Merino Conference, the International Wool Textile Organisation annual congress will be held in Cape Town and joint events are envisaged.
“This concept also has the strong support of Australian Wool Innovation whom I expect to have a significant scientific and promotional input at both events,” Mr Ashby said.
“I believe the outcomes of the two organisations working in co-ordination will be highly beneficial to our industry.”
World Merino conferences are held every four years, hosted by one of the thirteen member countries of the WFMB, with the aim of facilitating and promoting the breeding of Merino sheep and the use of Merino wool, meat and by-products throughout the world as well as keeping abreast of trends and developments.
Chairman of Merino 2014, Francois van der Merwe, said that the Merino industry is thriving in South Africa with the three breeds, Merino, Dohne Merino and South African Mutton Merino being highly productive and fertile dual-purpose sheep.
“South African Merino breeders are progressive and scientific in their approach and Merino genetics from this country are regularly exported to other wool-producing countries,” he said.
“Not only is South Africa an important Merino breeding country, but it also has produced Merino scientists of note who have contributed handsomely to the progress this breed has made over many years in the fields of genetics and reproduction, nutrition and production, sheep health and welfare.
“Delegates and visitors to Merino 2014 will be exposed to the results and successes of such research,” Mr van der Merwe said, adding that “conference speakers will also be drawn from the international industry to ensure a world-wide perspective".
The conference will feature an array of speakers and topics with a focus "much wider than the physiology and psychology of sheep”.
The theme of Merino 2014 'Merino Breeding – sustainable enterprise – a cherished way of life' will be reflected in the presentations with colourful social activities and entertainment to also feature over the four days.
Merino 2014 will also mark the 225th anniversary of the arrival in South Africa, then the Cape of Good Hope, of the first Merinos, brought from Europe in 1789.
Book-ending the Merino expo and conference will be optional tours of varying lengths covering the wool-producing areas of South Africa and incorporating other special interest options that visitors may wish to explore, such as agriculture, wildlife, culture, history and of course the country’s spectacular scenery.
Details of the trade mission from Australia will be announced later this year.
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