Cashing In On Afghan Cashmere

Cashmere being dehaired at the Herati Cashmere & Skin Processing plant.
Cashmere being dehaired at the Herati Cashmere & Skin Processing plant.
Afghanistan needs to sell processed, not raw, cashmere, to support its resurgence as a major world supplier
Abdul Basir Hotak’s plans for Afghanistan’s cashmere sector include some evolution and a small revolution. Hotak, whose cashmere processing company supplies hand spun yarn to American designer brands such as Kate Spade and clothing retailers such as J. Crew, says the sector needs to be industrialized and Afghanistan should stop exporting raw cashmere.
This makes sound economic sense because processed cashmere commands almost double the price of raw on world markets. Hotak saw the difference that processing made to profits when his Herati Cashmere & Skin Processing Plant began dehairing cashmere with crucial support from USAID. It was the first time that Afghanistan was able to sell processed cashmere and helped its resurgence as a major supplier of cashmere to the world, ranking third after China and Mongolia.
With USAID support, Hotak ploughed the profits into expanding production at the company’s Herat plant and setting up a new facility in Faizabad, capital of Badakhshan province. In 2012, a US Defense Department Task Force facilitated the purchase of a machine that cleaned dehaired cashmere better, making it more valuable.
Soon enough, the company had tripled its production of dehaired cashmere to 300 kilograms per day and secured new clientele in the US, Europe and India, among other countries.  Hotak says it is symbolic of the growth he expects in Afghanistan’s cashmere sector that he will have 500 women spinners at the Faizabad plant this year, up from 80 a year ago.

Last updated: January 20, 2015

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