SHAPING THE FUTURE OF CASHMERE
This year's SFA Awards
Our work with the Sustainable Fibre Alliance is helping to shape the future of the Cashmere industry by focussing on grassland management and animal welfare in Mongolia with a longer-term goal of achieving greater traceability of fibres within the supply chain. Last month, Johnstons of Elgin were proud sponsors of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA)’s annual performance-based awards for herders, recognising the dedication of those who produce the delicate Cashmere fibres that make our designs so unique.
Johnstons of Elgin is one of three founding members of the SFA, a non-profit international organisation formed in 2015 to work with the extended Cashmere supply chain, from herders to retailers. The SFA funds specific programmes in Mongolia to train communities, protect herders’ livelihoods and promote sustainability. Our Chief Executive sits on the SFA board and is an active participant in many SFA initiatives. In August, the SFA awarded prizes and incentives to 18 individuals at the Polaris Tower in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
Opening the event, Director of SFA Mongolia Dr Baival Batkhishig explained that cooperatives in Mongolia take a responsible approach to their work, protecting wildlife and managing the rangelands, but added that it's essential to strive to improve.
Dr Batkhishig explained that waste reduction is one of the positive outcomes of the SFA programme. ‘We must never deviate from the words quality and standard. Manufacturing companies have overcome many obstacles to meet many quality requirements, and the industry has developed to this day. Therefore, our herders and suppliers understand that it is possible to source cashmere without waste at the source,’ she said.
The Best Producer Organisation for Quality Improvement award was presented to Otgooloi Jamts, whose cooperative Zavkhan Buural includes 30 households. The criteria for this award included achieving a bronze certificate or above in two assessment areas, initiating efforts to improve goat breeding and cooperating with the soum (or district) breeding department specialist to improve the quality of Cashmere.
BEST YOUNG HERDER
The Best Young Herder Award was presented to three individuals – Suvdbaatar Baatarkhuu, aged 20, Urgunbaatar Baljinnyam, 23, and Batmunkh Badamsambuu, 19. These young herders have inherited herding techniques and traditions and implemented them in their daily lives. To meet the standard for the award, the youngsters participated in SFA code of practice training and showed a willingness to learn new skills and technologies while maintaining Mongolian livestock and heritage.
THE WAY FORWARD
The Sustainable Fibre Alliance aims to ensure the long-term viability of the Cashmere sector, and traceability remains a challenge. At the recent awards ceremony, the success of a Chain of Custody pilot was discussed, paving the way for more transparent tracing of fibres in the future.