I ran across an interesting article on cashmere goats this morning. Apparently the large demand for cashmere around the world has driven up the prices so high herders are now adding more goats to their herds.
This has become a larger problem because prices collapsed last year presenting the herders with an opportunity to buy more head. Now they are eating up all the grassland contributing to desertification. This cannot be good for the global cashmere supply chain.
(CNN writes)They can make 50,000 tugrik a kilogram ($37) in a country where 35 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line. Because of this, herders have been turning more and more of their attention to increasing their goat population.
A sharp drop in global cashmere prices last year encouraged herders like Bayanmunkh to increase the size of their herds to compensate.
In 2005, USAID released a report which concluded: “The herding sector [in Mongolia] may well have surpassed the total herd size that can be sustained by Mongolia’s pasturelands and its herds may already be causing desertification.”
But with demand for cashmere still high, and shop after shop in the capital of Ulan Bator selling Mongolian cashmere products, it will be hard to persuade herders to limit their involvement in the lucrative business.
“It is about moving from quantity to quality of animals, but that is very difficult,” says Noda. “We have tried to discuss this with government, but it sounds as if we are trying to limit the earning potential of herders, who are also voters.”
So far, little has been done to persuade herders to rein in their herds, though they themselves are seeing the impact of the overgrazing as increasing amounts of pastureland is eaten up by the desert.