Ahmad Shekib Popal, Gurudutta P. Japee
This paper intends to provide a roadmap to facilitate the implementation of a key set of actions that can help the Afghan Cashmere sector development in Afghanistan. This paper also aims to increase private sector participation in overcoming the challenges facing the cashmere sector in Afghanistan and mobilize available sources of support from donor-funded projects, NGO (Non-Government Organizations) initiatives, and GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) organizations, to provide a systematic, and coordinated approach to promote the Cashmere Sector in Afghanistan.
The cashmere sector in Afghanistan remains one of the country’s most valuable industries. There continue to be significant opportunities to improve production processes and retain more of the final value of this lucrative product within Afghanistan’s borders. Afghanistan is currently the third largest producer of cashmere in the world after China and Mongolia and has made considerable progress since the launch of the first cashmere in recent years. Key achievements since then include: (1) The development of crossbreeding program across Afghanistan, most notably in Herat, designed to improve the quality and international appeal of Afghan cashmere, (2) the Development of the ‘Afghan Made’ cashmere trademark which will differentiate the Afghan product in the world market, (3) Regular attendance at international cashmere and fashion conferences by GOIRA and industry representatives with the aim of raising the profile of Afghan cashmere and attracting international investment, (4) Steps to establish a quality testing and certification facility in Herat which will ensure that international quality standards are met, thereby enhancing cashmere’s export prospects, and (5) Development of an indigenous processing capacity with the establishment of two cashmere processing lines in Herat and more in the pipeline.
The sector’s progress has been impressive, but there is still much work to do, particularly mitigating the influence of China on the Afghan sector. The export of raw, unwashed cashmere to China is hampering efforts elsewhere in the sector to improve quality and enhance Afghan cashmere’s international reputation. To this end, there is still much work to be done and five priority action areas have been identified by the sector to be undertaken over the period in the future. These are: (1) Ban the export of greasy, unwashed raw cashmere, which will reduce the huge pull that China currently exerts on the Afghan sector and, in turn, open other markets, (2) Improve the quality and yield of Afghan cashmere by expanding the successful crossbreeding program, (3) Improve education on the value of cashmere and the support to realize it, by improving producers’ knowledge of harvesting techniques and routes to market for raw cashmere, (4) Improve the perception of Afghan cashmere in the global market through establishing quality procedures, both in terms of testing and certification, and promotion of the ‘Afghan Made’ trademark, and (5) Build capacity in the spinning, weaving/knitting, manufacturing, and finishing areas to capture more of the value-addition in the upper stages of the value chain. This should be seen as a longer-term aspiration that will extend beyond the lifetime of the current action plan.
Situation analysis of the Afghan Cashmere Sector, SWOT Analysis of the Sector, Suggestions, and key set of actions to develop the Cashmere Sector in Afghanistan and Identifying requirements for the implementation of the suggested priority actions.
VOL.15, ISSUE No.1, March 2023