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In our previous blog post, we introduced Dr. Carol Kerven and Sabyr Toigonbaev and their vital work with native cashmere goats in Kyrgyzstan. We continue our story of their work then and today, and how it led to the founding of June Cashmere. If you missed Part I or want a refresher, find it here: Part I: Kyrgyzstan and Cashmere: How did it lead to June Cashmere? Sabyr assessing quality of cashmere. Photo by Carol Kerven. Carol and Sabyr organize a conference In 2012, Carol and Sabyr organized an international conference on high value animal fiber that took place in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. One of the goals of the conference was to make people aware of the quality of cashmere available...
Native cashmere goats on rocky terrain, Kyrgzyzstan. Photo by Erjigit Abdykaarov Background For most of the 20th century, Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet Union, belonging to its textile-producing region. State farms managed livestock production, including specially bred wool sheep and fiber-producing goats, and the fiber was transferred to state-owned textile mills, which in turn shipped finished yarn and clothing to a very large Soviet market for sales. In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Kyrgyzstan’s animal fiber and textile-producing infrastructure also collapsed. Kyrgyzstan became independent but, external markets were lost, textile mills were privatized and then closed when all the equipment was sold off, and newly-privatized livestock owners were left without a state-run outlet for fiber from their own...
Southern Kyrgyzstan, photo: Erica Manning Historically, the vast majority of the world's cashmere has come from Mongolia and China. In recent decades, the rapidly increased production of this fiber has contributed to land overuse and land desertification in the region, the negative climate effects of which are felt even along the west coast of the United States. Native goats to Kyrgyzstan - referred to as 'jaidiri', meaning local goat; photo: June Cashmere Goats aren't innately bad to the land if managed properly; total animal numbers (including goats, sheep, cows, and any other animals being grazed) need to be kept in proportion to the size and topography of the area of land being grazed. Traditional grazing methods understood the importance of numbers in an animal...
Spring. The time of renewal, hope, and . . . birth! Of kids! We purchase cashmere fiber from shepherds in the Chong Alai region of southern Kyrgyzstan. In this high mountain region, goats give birth once a year – preferably in spring, when there is more food for grazing and time for the kids to grow before going to jailoo – the high mountain pastures where shepherds live in yurts and graze their animals until fall. If all goes well, birthing takes about an hour. If there are twins, the babies are small and birthing is easier. If the kids are large, the mother may have difficulty and shepherds may have to help the birthing process by pulling...