Cashmere from sustainable Value Chains
 
 

2008 - 2017: 10 years of breeding Valais Cashmere Goats 

 
 

"SwissCashmere" - or more specific - Valais Cashmere or Valcash

WHAT is this?

It could be cashmere (wool) or "pashmina" made in Switzerland - or made in Afghanistan, Tajikistan or India with Swiss financial support and know-how.

WHY do we need this?

A country like Switzerland should be in a position to demonstrate (to less developed mountain countries) how to best use "the mountains" - or the natural alpine resources -, and to assist raising the living standard of alpine farmers and livestock breeders (pastoralists) through know-how transfer. The most suitable basis for any type of know-how transfer is a demonstration of its application, viz. to show that it works. As the color white is dominant and the cashmere bucks are of white color, all Valcash goats are generally white.

Valais cashmere is "harvested" (combed) from Valais Cashmere (Valcash) goats, which are crossedbred from Valais Blackneck goats and Scottish cashmere bucks, originating from a genepool of various cashmere breeds all over the world. 

The Valais Blackneck (or "Walliser Schwarzhalsziege") is a robust Swiss goat breed coming most probably from Africa to Southwest Switzerland (Kanton Wallis/Valais) about 1,000 years ago. In Valais, the Valais Blackneck goats are kept for about six months in stables situated in the valleys, and for another six months they are grazing on open pastures, out of which two to three months on high alpine pastures above 2,000m altitude.


The following photographs show the first successfully crossbred Valcash goats in 2011/2012 - after 3 years of failure due to deceases and accidents:

The first generation of crossbred Valcash goats. Two among them showing maternal color signs (copper and black).

 


This is Shirin, born in February 2011. Father is a Scottish cashmere buck, the mother a Valais Blackneck goat from Lötschental/Valais - hence the first Valcash generation.


This is Dolma, born in March 2012. Like Shirin, the father is a cashmere buck and the mother a Blackneck goat - hence also the first generation, but from a different cashmere buck.


How is it done?

Valais cashmere goat breeding is optimized for producing premium cashmere (or "pashmina") in quality and quantity.

Besides producing a limited amount of high quality cashmere, Valais cashmere goats would be used for alpine vegetation management, but could also provide meat and diary products.

Workshops would be set up to demonstrate the processing of cashmere from its harvest to its final (textile) product in order to make people appreciate true cashmere.

What could a recipient region, e.g. Ladakh, offer in return for assistance given to improve its cashmere production?

Goat breeding stock of high quality.

Traditional cashmere processing techniques including dying with natural colours.

Weaving and embroidery skill.

Traditional designs originating from early times of the Moghul empire

Trade offs

Promoting genuine cashmere production in pre-dominantly mountainous countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kirgistan, Ladakh/Northern India.

Safeguarding traditional handicraft and culture.

Sensitizing tourists visiting the  UNESCO World Heritage site in the art of cashmere production under difficult living conditions.

Poviding a market outlet for high quality cashmere products and using the revenues of (genuine) cashmere sales to further assist alpine goat breeders (pastoralists) in mountain regions such as Hindukush, Karakorum, Pamir or Himalaya.



The third generation