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«FAO ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND HEALTH paper ADDING VALUE TO LIVESTOCK DIVERSITY Marketing to promote local breeds and improve livelihoods Cover ...»

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Once the marketing channels are established, markets are not a problem. For handicrafts, demand always exceeds supply, and the market is increasing and diversifying. There is demand for these products because health- and environmentally conscious consumers, especially in Europe, appreciate natural colours and hand-made products. Customers include both young and middle-aged people. Shramik Kala can sell as much as it can produce, and cannot keep up with rising demand. It accepts orders from buyers, then allocates the orders to the self-help groups to produce the required number of items. An order of, say, 100 bags, needs a lead time of 30 days to fulfil. Larger orders take longer: a consignment of 1 000 bags takes 120 days to produce. Shramik used to produce items without a prior order, but no longer has to do this because of the level of demand.

The unique qualities of Deccani wool offer additional opportunities for product development. Shramik Kala and Mitan have started strategic collaboration with wool and felt traders from Nepal, who are big players in the European market. These traders can provide white wool, but they do not have access to black wool of the type produced by Deccani sheep.

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ing capital. The two groups in the village of Kadoli now have net assets of Rs 1 000 000 ($21 000).

The self-help groups can get a limited amount of credit from the banks. But this is not enough because of the constant need for working capital. New foreign donors are showing interest in supporting the initiative. Shramik Kala is also seeking support from government bodies such as the Wool and Textiles Department and the Karnataka Sheep and Wool Development Board.

Investments How much does setting up a production and marketing effort cost? Table 2 shows that production equipment was a very minor expense. The largest part of the costs were for forming the Shramik Kala federation, consultancy expenses, training, and exposure visits.

In all, the project cost about Rs 4 million ($85 000), Rs 3 million of which was funded by a grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

In addition, Shramik Kala has rented a building for Rs 15 000 ($320) per year for its main office. It also uses a community hall in one village and has rented a building in another.

For working capital, the enterprise obtained a loan of Rs 250 000 ($5 300) a year for 3 years from a local bank under a central government scheme. SAS has provided an additional loan of Rs 1 000 000 ($21 000). This working capital is used buy raw materials and to pay the spinners, felt-makers and bag-makers for producing the items.


Table 3 shows the prices at which the various actors sell the wool and wool products.

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The big increase in the amount of items ordered and sold in 2008 was possible because of Shramik Kala’s and Mitan’s marketing efforts. Over half of the total earnings from exports were paid to the artisans for their work.

It is typical of the craft sector to vertically integrate design, material procurement, production, marketing and quality control to a small group of individuals. This offers several advantages, but is suitable only for low levels of production. As the scale increases these tasks have to be specialized and defined carefully to improve efficiency and ensure smooth functioning. This was the reason Shramik Kala span off the marketing function to Mitan, making possible the leap in sales and production in 2008.

Shramik Kala is trying to increase production by establishing more self-help groups rather than expanding existing ones. Its efforts to scale up production are driven by the community as well as the market. Interest among pastoralist communities in nearby parts of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh has spurred Shramik Kala to facilitate the spread of the technologies and marketing efforts to these areas. In Solapur district, Maharashtra, an NGO called Mata Balak Pratisthan has started two groups of 40 people to do weaving and spinning. In Sangli district, also in Maharashtra, Verla Projects has started three groups with 60 women to make woollen bags. In Medak district, in Andhra Pradesh, Anthra, another NGO, has started a group with about 20 women.

BENEFITS Shramik Kala’s wool production and marketing programme not only provides livelihoods for 100 women and their families. It also benefits 100 shepherds who raise the sheep that produce the wool, and who now have a ready market for their fleeces. A large number of shepherds are now starting to keep the Deccani breed again, and shepherds from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh are buying breeding rams from northern Karnataka.

The enterprise has shown how to protect the Deccani sheep breed by finding a highvalue niche market for a previously low-value product: coarse, coloured wool. The woollen products have achieved remarkable and rapid success in both international and domestic markets. This has been achieved through a social enterprise consisting of self-help groups of poor women, and nurtured by a team of development activists, craft persons and marketing experts.

PART 1: Wool and cashmere 27


The enterprise has encountered various bottlenecks in production and marketing:

Investment for export. Historically, most of the infrastructure and investments made in the sector have been geared to the domestic Indian market, not to exports.

Fresh investment is needed to create facilities for processing the wool and to develop new product ranges that cater to exports. Such investment could contribute significantly to reviving the wool sector.

Eco-friendly packing materials. Shramik Kala and Mitan Handicrafts would like to use eco-friendly packaging for their products, but buyers demand, and export regulations dictate, what types of material can be used for packaging. Packaging materials must be able to withstand different conditions and protect the product from fungus attacks when the humidity is high.

Variable shades. Leather tanned with organic dyes may be different shades at first, but matures to a classical leather shade over a period of time. This is poorly understood: buyers sometimes think that the product is the wrong colour.


Factors in the successful development of the product range based on the Deccani wool


An entrepreneurial approach backed by social investment. The project involved extensive dialogue with market participants: shepherds, traders, cooperatives, technical experts, product designers. The task force included a multifunctional team to ensure that a range of viewpoints and approaches were taken into account when developing the product and enterprise. The process was driven by a potential market opportunity.

Social investment enabled all phases of the initial pilot: the exploratory study, the design and development of products, training, and market development and product launch Extensive research to identify and exploit the qualities of the raw material. Laboratory analysis identified the unique properties of the Deccani wool. Field research with players in the wool market, from suppliers to buyers, focused the product design and development to create a competitive range of products.

Building on existing skill sets and organizational capabilities. Developing the woollen products took advantage of existing skills and organizational capabilities. It built on an established federation of women’s groups. Relationships with the community of shepherds and their families were already established, and the operational and organizational framework was already in place.

Leveraging established relationships with other stakeholders. The new product lines also built on established relationships with traders, producers, buyers, international and government funders, designers and technical consultants. The groundwork had been laid in the earlier project which developed the production of jute bags and established Shramik Kala. The team developing the enterprise had a track record with each set of stakeholders.

Adding value to livestock diversity Building stakeholder commitment to the enterprise. Expanding the enterprise model of Shramik Kala was possible because of careful assessment and development in the pilot programme. All the stakeholders were involved in the enterprise from the initial phases of the pilot to its evaluation.

Communication with all stakeholders through progress reports, meetings and workshops continues their participation and commitment to the enterprise. Periodic meetings, workshops and discussions are part of the culture of the self-help groups.

Several of the Shramik Kala team live at the federation’s processing centre and are a part of the production process.


Most of the world’s sheep are white. The international policy environment supports fine, white wools, and is oriented to production by large mills. Policymakers and the industry have ignored the potential of breeds such as the Deccani that produce coarse, coloured wool, as well as production by pastoralists and artisans. Black and brown wool tends to be coarser, but there is considerable potential demand for these shades.

In India, the decision to switch from local wool to imported yarns to make blankets for the army and police destroyed the livelihood of many shepherds. Large amounts of investment, subsidies, and infrastructure in the wool sector have been wasted due to faulty policies. Subsidies have encouraged actors to keep fraudulent books that show higherthan-actual production. These wasted millions have failed to raise demand for wool or benefit the shepherds.

As Shramik Kala has shown, the pastoralist wool sector can be returned to productivity.

Coarse wool-based livelihoods have immense potential in semi-arid parts of the Deccan plateau if they are appropriately organized. There is potential to revive and revitalize the defunct cooperatives formed by the government over the last 25 years.

Policy decisions that would help the wool sector should also include the shepherds and

wool-related artisans. Recommendations include:

Involve shepherds in policy decisions.

Promote research on and breeding of Deccani sheep for its adaptation to semi-arid areas and its ability to handle a changing climate.

Build on the growing interest in traditional veterinary treatments and animal management methods.

Persuade sheep raisers to grow a few acres of fodder crops to provide additional feed for animals and so overcome shortages when grazing is scarce.

Develop markets for lamb meat.

Empower local people through local government.

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Cashmere from the Pamirs:

Helping mountain farmers in Kyrgyzstan Carol Kerven and Sabyr Toigonbaev It’s a long way from the towering Pamir range of central Asia to the catwalks and boutiques of the rich world. And not just in terms of kilometres: the pastoralists who herd their flocks on the remote mountains could not be more different from the wealthy elite of Paris, London, New York, Moscow and Tokyo.

But high mountains do have something in common with high fashion: the goats traditionally raised on pastures in the Pamirs. To survive the harsh winters, these goats have evolved a soft, downy undercoat, concealed beneath an outer layer of coarse hair. This undercoat has a name that evokes images of warmth and quality: cashmere.

But even though the herders sell cashmere, they gain little from producing such a valuable product: in fact, most are not aware of how valuable their cashmere is.

That is beginning to change, thanks to initiatives by the British-based Odessa Centre and the Kyrgyz Cashmere Producers’ Association, supported by the Aga Khan Foundation.


Cashmere is an ultra-fine fibre – with a diameter of up to 18 microns (thousandths of a millimetre), it is finer even than the finest Merino wool. That makes it ideal for high-end

fabrics and garments. Colour and fineness of diameter make a huge difference in price:

over the past 10 years on average, a large British cashmere importer has paid from $18/ kg for coloured, 17-micron cashmere, and up to $70/kg for white cashmere of 15-micron diameter.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the places where goats were domesticated, so is home to a major genetic resource of cashmere goats. Indeed, some of the finest cashmere in the world comes from a local breed of goats in southern Kyrgyzstan.

These goats may be black, white, red, or with black-and-white marks on the body.

They come in various sizes; 90–95% have horns. The long, rough, coarse outer fibre has a strong shine, and is very different from the short undercoat of down. The outer hair has a diameter of 70–90 microns and grows evenly all year round, reaching a length of 15–17 cm. The inner down coat, or cashmere, grows in autumn and winter. It has a diameter of 13–16 microns and reaches a length of 4–5 cm.

Scientific studies show that Kyrgyz goats produce 24–27% down and 73–76% outer hair. One goat gives about 120–150 grams of combed cashmere (though research by the Odessa Centre and its partners show some goats produce more than this). The productivity of the goats is good, with a kidding rate of 125–150 from 100 adult females.

Adding value to livestock diversity FIGURE 5 Combing out the fine cashmere produces better-quality fibre than shearing


In the springtime, the goats naturally moult their warm inner winter coats. Before this happens, their owners shear them and sell the fleeces to local town traders. The fleece contains a lot of rough guard hair, which has no market value. The buyers buy fleeces by weight, in recent years paying a pre-set uniform price of $5–25 per kilogram regardless of quality, with no extra for ultra-fine or white fibre. These traders then sell the unsorted fleeces to mainly Chinese wholesalers, who hand-sort them into quality lots, each with a different price, before selling them on to factories in China, Turkey or elsewhere for processing.

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