The cashmere industry in Mongolia is facing many challenges. These challenges range from outside forces such as globalization, the market and trade. Inside forces such as the environment and the government are also affecting the cashmere industry in Mongolia. Since 1999 a negative sequence of extremely harsh winters and dry summers that lasted till 2002 reduced the livestock population by almost 30 percent. From a record production of cashmere in 1998 this fell to less than half in the crucial year of 2002.
Ms. Khishigjargal Tsedev, a well known figure in the Mongolian cashmere industry and author of one of the most informative books on the subject, is, at present, directing a sustainable project aimed to address some of these industry challenges.
Currently the Executive Director of the Mongol Yak Society NGO based in Ulaanbaatar, her project is for the Yak Wool Value chain in the framework of “Livestock Management” and the “Green Gold“ Pasture Ecosystem Program (2004 – 2012) promoted by the Swiss Cooperation Agency in Mongolia. It encompasses a larger scope than only cashmere, but nonetheless has direct positive impact on the Cashmere Industry. The main goal of the project is to contribute to increased livestock productivity through enhancement of sustainable herd management skills of herder households.
Mongol Yak Society has also established a training and yak wool producing center in Ar Khangai. This became the main source for herders to learn and develop their livestock supply resources.
Other issues to be tackled are desertification caused by over grazing of goats which destroy pastures when they feed as the grass is removed by the root. The 2007 – 2014 Coping with Desertification Project is designed to tackle this major problem which threatens the cashmere industry in Mongolia and by extension the pastoral nomadic lifestyle of 50% of the population from which they draw their national values, identity, and pride.
The Mongolian Yak Society and Ms. Tsedev, have a daunting responsibility to establish a sustainable cashmere and yak wool industries in Mongolia and preserve the centuries old way of life which gave rise to the “Green Gold” harvested on the wide open Mongolian plains.
“Green Gold” is the subject of the most authoritative book on the cashmere industry in Mongolia. The work, entitled “Magnificent Cashmere: a look into the luxurious clothing fiber of Mongolia”, was co-authored by Ms. Tsedev and her colleague Mr. Sedvanchig Tserenbat, who will be among the international panelists of the Cashmere World Forum in November at Cashmere World (www.cashmereworldfair.com) .
Magnificent Cashmere was published in 2000 by High Plains Publishers based in Dodge City, Kansas, USA. This is a must-read for executives with interests in sourcing from Mongolia and who want to know more about the history of the cashmere industry.
by Richard Smith**
**Richard Smith is ex Commercial Manager of Leather International magazine and a freelance writer on the leather, footwear and textile industries.