The Cashmere Journey: Afghanistan
A Precious Material
Cashmere is an ancient material which, although renowned for its softness, comes from harsh environments. Over the last decade, increased global demand for cashmere and repercussions from climate change have posed challenges for the fragile ecosystems the cashmere industry relies on.
Afghanistan is the third largest producer of cashmere in the world, after China and Mongolia. But increased demand for the material has not led to an improvement in farmers’ livelihoods, due to a lack of understanding around the value, benefits and opportunities of cashmere.
The Burberry Foundation’s five-year programme works hand in hand with local communities, educating and empowering herders to realise the benefits of cashmere fibre, and benefiting local communities long term.
The programme is actively contributing towards UN Sustainable Development Goals 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 17, which include ending poverty in all its forms, ensuring inclusive and equitable education for all, achieving gender equality and promoting sustained and sustainable economic growth.
To improve the quality and yield of cashmere fibre and kick-start a new supply chain in the country, we built a new goat breeding facility hosting over 400 goats and distributed the elite bucks to cashmere producing villages.
To educate and empower herders to realise the benefits of cashmere fibre, we trained thousands of herders on sustainable cashmere harvesting and livestock management practices.
To ensure there is a fair and established cashmere supply chain for herders, we engaged key local stakeholders to facilitate the development of community-owned producer groups.
To educate herders around the value of cashmere, we broadcast a national radio programme reaching out to herders in remote areas.
To reduce the impact of climate change on the landscape, we trained herders on pasture management that prevents overgrazing and desertification.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of the programme, we are engaging with the national government and cashmere industry to form strong and long-lasting partnerships.
We are engaging with local authorities and government to create policies to improve both the Afghan cashmere industry and the price of Afghan cashmere on the international market.
Building a Better Future
Afghanistan is a key sourcing country for the luxury fashion industry, and we are working to future-proof this critical supply chain from the inside out – ensuring its communities are supported in the long term.
We are committed to positively influencing the cashmere supply chain at every level, partnering with policy experts and communicating the work of the programme with other brands, cashmere sellers and spinners – aligning the industry to a common goal and helping herders produce more desirable, better quality cashmere that can be sold at better and fairer prices.