Sustainable Cashmere Union (SCU) is a local Mongolian association officially formed in 2017 to market responsibly dehaired and certified cashmere fiber locally and internationally via the luxury industry. It is the result of the grouping of breeders into a cooperative since 2014, in the arid region of Bayankhongor, thanks to the establishment of the first sustainable cashmere chain in the world by the French NGO Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF). The NGO still provides to the SCU technical and financial assistance.
In 2021, sharing common values, the SCU network expands and integrates the Arkhangai Yak Cooperative –CAAD– which produces and sells sustainable down from baby yaks, since 2010.
Since 2020, AVSF is deploying its sustainable cashmere chain in other provinces: Arkhangai and Khentii. These new cooperatives join the SCU network in 2022.
The story of SCU‘s creation is intimately tied to the situation of the herders. The herders evolve in a fragile ecosystem where the hardness of the work is notorious. The winter temperatures oscillate around -30° and can go down to -40°, making the work laborious. During the summer season, after having faced the violent spring winds, drought and water scarcity take place. Climate change and the increase in the number of livestock in recent years have led to the loss of nutritious grasses, soil desertification and the advance of the desert. Traditionally, the ancestors balanced the number and species of animals to maintain a balance with their biotope. SCU strives to return to this ancestral mode of pastoralism. It favors the quality of the livestock, through the selection of the best breeds, and decreases its quantity in order to preserve the grazing areas. By rotating the herds seasonally, the herds are better distributed in space and the pastures can regenerate from one year to the next, preserving the vegetation and water management.
Sustainable Cashmere Union is working to bring about a sustainable response regarding:
SCU collaborates through a network of like-minded manufacturers and ensures sustainability throughout the production chain in accordance with international standards. SCU fully manages the commercialization and export of the raw material to Europe, which avoids the breeders to go through intermediaries, and thus to obtain a decent salary accompanied by a selling price in relation to the certified quality and authenticity of the product. Today, 80% of the annual salary of these same breeders comes from the sale of cashmere.