Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Nomadic Herders meet with luxury cashmere brands

Posted by Fiona Jones

SFA herders met online with representatives of leading luxury brands to discuss the major issues affecting the cashmere sector this year, including the impact of Covid-19, this summer’s drought, fibre demand and sustainability practices. The aim of the meetings was to galvanise collective action in building and promoting a competitive and sustainable cashmere sector in Mongolia.

The herders, who have all been accredited against the SFA Codes of Practice, had the opportunity to share their efforts in rangeland protection and animal welfare and their focus on improving livestock quality over quantity. In the Bayarkhongor region the urgency to reduce the number of livestock and improve the rangeland conditions has been brought into sharp focus with the threat of a dzud this year (where extreme weather following a poor summer results in livestock not being able to access enough grass).

The SFA collaborated with the UNDP’s Mongolian Sustainable Cashmere Platform (MSCP), who initiated the meetings. They also arranged meetings with other sustainability initiatives including the NFPUG, ENSURE and Green Gold. 

This was the first in a series of these meetings between produces and brands, the next will be on the 20th November, if you would like to attend, or would like us to pose a question on your behalf then register on http://sustainablecashmereplatform.com/ – it’s certainly not your typical zoom meeting!

Herder training in Inner Mongolia begins!

Posted by Fiona Jones


In September, an on-going series of herder training began in the joint SFA x ICCAW Code of Practice in Cashmere Goat Welfare. The training began in Erdos City and the Yingen Sumu area of Inner Mongolia and was followed by interviews and the inspection of farms of the Ordos Cashmere Group, which were individually assessed on their animal welfare standards. 

In the training, Mr Ayoshi Yongxi, the president of ICCAW, explains the basic principles of animal welfare and emphasises the importance of animal welfare of cashmere goats to the international market. The training sessions are delivered by researchers and professors from the Inner Mongolia Agricultural University.  

The topics covered include: 

Herders Receive Business Development Training

Posted by Fiona Jones

As part of the SFA’s Covid-19 Action Plan, a two-day Business Development Training for Herding Organisations has been held this week in Ulaanbaatar. The aim was to develop business management capacity for herder organisations and cooperatives to trade in raw materials and to increase governance at community organisational level.

A key focus of the SFA’s Covid-19 Action Plan is to reduce the economic vulnerability of herders through increasing economic literacy and their business development training.

The training was well attended with 50 participants, including 39 Herding Organisations Leaders from 35 soums across 10 provinces.

The training was delivered by speakers from the SFA, the Export Development Programme, the Employment Promotion Project and Mandakh Universities and topics included:

Proposal for an ‘International Year of Rangelands & Pastoralists’

Posted by Fiona Jones

Grasslands are fundamental to the cashmere supply chain and the Mongolian government is proposing an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists. Here’s a short film about pastoralists around the world and their importance. Or visit https://iyrp.info/ to find out more about the initiative.

Public Consultation on Clean Fibre Processing (review) is now open…

Posted by Fiona Jones

The public consultation on the review of The Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice is open until September 30th. Click here to access the public summary and relevant documents.

Public Consultation on SFA x ICCAW Goat Welfare Code of Practice now open…

Posted by Fiona Jones

The first round of public consultation is now open until the 16th October please follow the link for the public summary.

Good Herding Podcasts

Posted by Fiona Jones

May 2020

This month the SFA Mongolia team has released the first podcast in a series on good herding practices, during cashmere season. This is just one in a series of new ways that the SFA in Mongolia are engaging with herders, which includes videos, a TV series with Khan Bank and handbooks. All of these training materials will be expanded in response to COVID restrictions.

The Chain of Custody has started!

Posted by Fiona Jones

April 2020

The bags have been stamped, the labels have been printed and for the first time, we are about to trace cashmere fibre from the herders through the entire supply chain to the shop floor. Participating companies have been announced in the Chain of Custody pathways. This cashmere season, SFA herding communities have been preparing their fibre by colour and quality. Herding communities in the Ovorkhangai and South Gobi regions have just received their SFA Transaction Certificates and are the first step in our chain of custody pilot.

SFA X ICCAW Inner Mongolia Collaboration

Posted by Fiona Jones

SFA is proud to announce that we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Cooperation Committee on Animal Welfare (ICCAW) to cooperate in jointly developing and implementing a joint Code of Practice for accreditation of animal welfare and environmental sustainability of cashmere production in China. The Code of Practice will provide specific guidance for herding families and companies on how to implement ICCAW’s Cashmere Goat Farm Animal Welfare Requirements and will be implementable within SFA’s Sustainable Cashmere Standard.

Covid-19 Action Plan

Posted by typeface

The economic impacts of Covid-19 on herding families are considerable and concerning. The fall in demand for cashmere caused a fall of up to 60% (compared to last year’s average price of raw cashmere). For the majority of herders, this is devastating since cashmere is their main or only income. The fall in income will not only impact their own economic security and wellbeing but the welfare of their animals. The SFA surveyed its herders this May and the responses indicate that reduced incomes and loan repayments will impact animal welfare in three ways:

  1. Fewer animals will be vaccinated against disease
  1. Lack of funds for animal feed
  1. Lack of funds for maintaining winter shelters

Over the past five years, the SFA has worked with herding communities to promote the adoption of sustainable herding practices, which contributes to building resilience in their own herding livelihoods. Covid-19 has only highlighted the importance of local networks and support systems, access to knowledge, flexibility and mobility, innovative herding skills and use of reserve pastures in helping herding communities cope with external shocks. Whether faced with a global pandemic or climatic disaster, we can help herders become better prepared for these shocks, mitigate their impacts and recover from more quickly.

In response to Covid-19 the SFA set up a Covid-19 Working Group where we and our members identified where we can add new activities in order to target our efforts where they are most needed responding to the two core goals of :

Reducing economic vulnerability of Mongolian herding communities

Building capacity for responsible fibre production.

The recommendations of the SFA Covid-19 Working Group regarding our key areas of action are as follows:

  1. Explore what opportunities herding families and communities have to reduce their reliance on the cashmere fibre crop.
  1. Develop a programme of support to herders that encourages a communal approach to dealing with financial/environmental shocks, animal welfare management and disaster response.
  1. Develop an incentive mechanism to encourage and reward good practice. 
  1. Work with other agencies and NGOs to agree joint action to improve the quality of Mongolian cashmere fibre quality, breeding or other related programmes.
  1. Extend the chain of custody model to allow a greater number of herders and processors to benefit from market access and price premiums and explore the potential to add further value through herder-level sorting of raw fibre.

Download the full SFA Covid-19 Action Plan here.