Tien-Shan and Pamir mountain range, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic in the heart of Central Asia and has gained independence in 1991. About 90% of the Kyrgyz territory is above 1000 m altitude, and 40% above 3000 m in the mountain ranges of the Tian Shan and the Pamir. The landlocked country with a population of six million, has an area of around 200,000 square kilometers, making it about five times larger than Switzerland.
For a large part of the rural population - which comprises two-thirds of the total population - agriculture and livestock represents the main source of income. Kyrgyz farmers, with their very extensive form of animal husbandry, produce small amounts of finest, softest and extremely light fine fibers in a pristine and ecological manner. Goats are often kept in mixed flocks together with sheep, cattle and horses; this supports a more optimal and an ecologically sustainable use of pastures for grazing.
This contrasts other cashmere regions in the world that have exclusively specialized in the production of cashmere, such as Inner Mongolia in China or the Khövsgöl Province in Mongolia. There, the number of goats has recently grown to such an extent, and animal husbandry has so much intensified that often fragile and dry pastures have started to become overused. Large goat populations are particularly problematic with respect to overgrazing, as they graze the pastures much more intensely than other livestock species such as sheep, cattle, horses and camels. Since goats are less demanding in their eating behavior, they can also feed on roots of grasses, and thus destroy the root system. Ultimately, such strong overgrazing leads to increased soil degradation (e.g. by erosion), and eventually to desertification, a process that is very difficult to reverse.
That is why we pay a fair price for the quality and the ecologically sustainable production of fine animal fibers in Kyrgyzstan. With our long-term commitment and with the aid of a social fund, we want to support the farmers directly in their original way of life and maintain their very extensive nature of goat keeping.