Pashmina wool shortage impacts livelihoods in Kashmir

MUKEET AKMALI

Srinagar, Apr 24: In a major jolt to already beleaguered Pashmina industry in Kashmir, the death of more than 20,000 Changra goats in Ladakh’s Changthang area has caused severe shortage of wool.
 The artisans said the shortage has pushed up the rates of Pashmina wool impacting severely their daily earnings.
 “The rates have increased manifold. The dealers are attributing the price hike to death of goats in Leh which has created shortage of Pashmina wool in the market. But we are actual sufferers as it has impacted our daily earnings,” the artisans said.
 Tariq Rashid Ghani, Managing Director, Pashmina Ghar said: “After the ban on Shahtosh, the Pashmina weaving became a source of income for thousands of workers.”
 He said: “About 70 per cent of Pashmina weavers mostly comprising downtrodden women and widows, who have no source of income other than weaving Pashmina are facing the brunt of shortage.”
 “Due to shortage, we are giving Pashmina wool in little quantity to the artisans for weaving,” said Nazir Ahmad, a Pashmina trader here.
 Dr Sharief, District Sheep Husbandry Officer, Leh confirmed that there was dip in production of Pashmina items.
 He said: “It is natural that the death of Pashmina goats will directly impact the availability of Pashmina wool. The price of the Pashmina products is naturally going to increase in the market, as its demand is very high,” he said.
 He pegs the total Pashmina wool collected in Leh at around 40,000 kg per year. “But this time it will go down by around 10,000 to 15,000 kgs as more than 20,000 Changra goats died due to starvation and snowfall.”
 Pertinently, the death of goats could take a heavy toll on the livelihoods of the locals in Leh, who depend on the production of Pashmina items.
 “It is also going to have impact on the locals as there are several middlemen, women entrepreneurs and people involved in the process of weaving as well, “he said.
 Sharief attributes the death of Pashmina goats to severe cold conditions the area witnessed this winter.
 “This winter the region received heavy snow and it became impossible for the goats to graze. The fodder dropped ahead of the winter got buried under the deep snow. Since the region remains cut off due to snow, the fodder supply couldn’t reach the goats, which led to their death,” he said.
 Pertinently, Leh supplies the finest quality of Pashmina wool. “When it comes to the quality of Pashmina, Leh is the best. The quality is judged by its diameter and length. Lesser the diameter, better the quality. Pashmina wool collected in Leh remains of a diameter of 9-11 micron, whereas China's has 12-16 micron,” he said.
 Chairman, Idara Insaaf- a newly formed social organization, Farooq Renzu believes the situation leading to the starvation of goats had been “deliberately created by so-called environmentalist Manika Gandhi”, who he said, “projected Chiru and Changra goats as sources of Shahtosh.”
 “It is irony that Manika Gandhi who shows much concern for dogs in Kashmir, has remained silent over the death of more than 20,000 Pashmina goats,” Renzu, an ex-bureaucrat said.
 He said that people associated with Kashmiri handicrafts would earlier ensure that fodder reached to these goats because they depended on their wool. “But after a negative campaign by the so-called environmentalist that the wool from the Chiru and Changra was obtained by killing the animal, ban was put on Shahtoosh,” he said.
 He said people associated with handicrafts sector would have ensured protection of these goats had there been no ban on Shahtoosh.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST




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