For the love of Mo­hair

In an in­dus­try with a his­tory of sus­tain­abil­ity and ethics, one thing stands out more than any­thing else: love.

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Promotional Article -

Soft, lux­u­ri­ous, warm and time­less. It’s hard to imag­ine Mo­hair as any­thing other than a lovely scarf, but the fact is, the true story be­hind its pro­duc­tion is al­most as beau­ti­ful – and supremely im­por­tant to the South African econ­omy.

Mo­hair is a fi­bre de­rived from the fleece of An­gora goats and the in­dus­try sup­ports over 800 South African farms and an es­ti­mated 30 000 de­pen­dants. Fifty per­cent of the world’s Mo­hair is pro­duced right here in South Africa, un­der strict guide­lines of sus­tain­abil­ity that have been in con­tin­ual de­vel­op­ment since 2009.

It’s all about the goats

Aside from the num­bers, though, it’s all about the goats. Th­ese gen­tle, some­what charis­matic, crea­tures are at the heart of a farm­ing in­dus­try that is driven by ethics and ex­per­tise. An­gora farm­ers have a deep un­der­stand­ing of their goats that only a farmer who loves his an­i­mals can have. They’re a pas­sion­ate bunch who re­gard the well­be­ing of their live­stock as an abid­ing com­mit­ment that is be­yond ques­tion.

Many of South Africa’s An­gora farms have been in pro­duc­tion for over a cen­tury, with knowl­edge and skills passed down through gen­er­a­tions. As such, Mo­hair pro­duc­tion in South Africa is as much a com­mer­cial en­ter­prise as it is fam­ily legacy. Of course, prof­itabil­ity is im­por­tant too, and is in­trin­si­cally linked to how the goats are treated and cared for.

A 10-year his­tory of sus­tain­abil­ity

Sus­tain­abil­ity is vi­tal to the in­dus­try. Mo­hair South Africa has been de­vel­op­ing pro­cesses to man­age and mon­i­tor the pro­duc­tion of Mo­hair since as far back as 1999.

Be­gin­ning with unique pro­ducer num­bers to mon­i­tor pro­duc­tion sta­tis­tics, the launch of the Sus­tain­able Guide­lines and farm as­sess­ments in 2009, and the ap­point­ment of a full­time Sus­tain­abil­ity Of­fi­cer in 2015, Mo­hair South Africa’s Sus­tain­abil­ity Pro­gramme is in con­tin­ual evo­lu­tion. It is de­signed to re­spond to new find­ings and crit­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors, mak­ing nec­es­sary im­prove­ments as time goes by.

Today, the pro­gramme in­cludes the de­vel­op­ment of a dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tion to cap­ture and an­a­lyse An­gora farm data as well as third party au­dits that can track Mo­hair fleece from farm to pro­duc­tion.

As part of this con­tin­ual evo­lu­tion, 2019 will see Mo­hair

South Africa and in­dus­try stake­hold­ers drive a strin­gent shear­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion pro­gramme to en­sure that the in­dus­try can con­tinue to main­tain, im­prove and en­sure the eth­i­cal treat­ment of its An­gora goat live­stock.

Mo­hair South Africa has fur­ther il­lus­trated the coun­try’s com­mit­ment to build­ing a sus­tain­able and eth­i­cal Mo­hair sec­tor through its en­gage­ment with Tex­tile Ex­change. Tex­tile Ex­change is a global non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that works closely with in­ter­na­tional mem­bers to drive in­dus­try trans­for­ma­tion in pre­ferred fi­bres, in­tegrity and stan­dards, and re­spon­si­ble sup­ply net­works.

Tex­tile Ex­change has spent the last few months scop­ing South Africa’s ex­ist­ing Mo­hair In­dus­try Sus­tain­able Guide­lines against other stan­dards, par­tic­u­larly the Re­spon­si­ble Wool Stan­dards. In Oc­to­ber, at its An­nual Sus­tain­abil­ity Con­fer­ence in Mi­lan, it an­nounced that Mo­hair will be in­cluded in the re­vi­sion process of the Re­spon­si­ble Wool Stan­dards. This will en­sure that the same prin­ci­ples that are be­ing used for Re­spon­si­ble Wool will also ap­ply to Mo­hair. The vi­sion is to cre­ate a Tex­tile Ex­change Stan­dard for Mo­hair, that may pro­vide brands and ap­parel mak­ers with a tool for sourc­ing an­i­mal-de­rived fi­bres that are pro­duced with con­sis­tently eth­i­cal prin­ci­ples and goals.

Deon Saay­man, Man­ag­ing Director of Mo­hair South Africa, com­mented: “Along­side the pas­sion­ate mo­hair farm­ers, Mo­hair South Africa will con­tinue our com­mit­ment to pro­duc­ing a sus­tain­able fi­bre that can be used with con­fi­dence and as­sur­ance of eth­i­cal prac­tices, with the sup­port of the en­tire mo­hair value chain.”

When you buy South African Mo­hair, you’re not just buy­ing a scarf, a coat or a jersey. You’re en­abling sus­tain­able, eth­i­cal farm­ing prac­tices. You’re en­sur­ing that thou­sands of South Africans are able to get up and go to work ev­ery day. You’re sup­port­ing the farmer who loves his goats. It doesn’t get any sim­pler, or better, than that.

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