A Fair Philosophy and much more
Since its creation and distribution of its Baby Yak Down, the Cooperative Â«Ar Arvidjin DelgerekhÂ» strives to provide incomes to its herder members, corresponding to the high quality of the fibers produced. The Cooperative has developed business partnerships based on transparency, with spinners and brands committed to fair trade values and also implementing measures for sustainable development.
Yaks evolve freely, are monitored at veterinary level and have a natural diet that relies on high mountain vegetation. At the end of winter the animals are subject to veterinary care and from May to June take place the periods of combing and sorting; the logistics of the Cooperative collect the raw fibres and the herders are paid the full value of their harvest for a higher price than the local market. In the second half, during its general assembly, the Cooperative distributes the benefits of the campaign to its members, based on volumes delivered by each.
â€œAr Arvidjin Delgerekhâ€ is the first Mongolian cooperative to cumulate at the same time Fair and democratic management philosophy, respect of ecosystems and animal welfare, combing expertise and quality control, export and services for its combed and dehaired Baby Yak down. Professionals of textile have the opportunity to take benefits for their markets of these quality mastered animal fibres and Pastoralists are rewarded for their efforts.
By choosing to produce combed Baby Yak Down, the members of the Cooperative have made a responsible choice, for three reasons: this safeguards their ecosystem and protects against potential natural disasters; it brings together a community of common interests for each stage of production; it has economic benefits as they decide how to use their Cooperativeâ€™s profits collectively and democratically, and in a transparent, fair way.
There is a long waiting list of herders who have applied to become members of the Cooperative; however the latter has chosen to expand progressively in order to retain its membership over the long term and to provide the necessary training. For every family of herders, their work is seasonal and once spring arrives their days are full and repetitive. In addition, regional herders may also face very harsh winters (around -40Â°C) which can decimate the baby yaks and other young animals which have not yet developed enough protection and which face a lack of food. Our members are not immune to these problems; however they are able to protect themselves more effectively through their logistical, medical and other tools. With support from the Cooperative, the herders are keen to adopt a high quality approach through a democratic decision-making process during general assemblies. This attitude can also be seen through support for the Cooperativeâ€™s diversification projects, but also through their daily lives. The members of the Cooperative are able to play the part of herders, artists and cultural communicators. Here are two examples taken from the 210 members.
Nyambuu et Tulga
herding family –
Soum of OndorUlaan
(170km from Tsetserleg)
Nyambuu is a mother of three and has recently become a grandmother. She provides training in dairy produce and takes part in many competitions. Tulga, her husband, is a race horse enthusiast and as a rider himself has won several competitions. They keep horses, goats, sheep and of course, yaks. The couple have been involved in the â€˜fair trade tourismâ€™ activity of their Cooperative for two years. Tourists they host appreciate their care and the time they spend introducing them to all of their different activities: making dairy products, transhumance, combing and milking yaks, transforming yak fibre through activities such as felting and spinning, exploring the woodland areas and archaeological sites.
Soum of Tariat
(180km from Tsetserleg)
One of the founding members of the cooperative, he still contributes just as actively to its development. A specialist in nomadic herding, he was able to train in market gardening through a programme run by the GERES, using passive solar greenhouses. Along with his wife, they grow traditional seasonal vegetables which they enjoy sharing with other herders. In the summer, they set up their home on the banks of a river where they keep sheep, goats, horses and yaks.
Dondov is proud of his Mongolian culture and traditions. He has built a small, traditional yurt, decorated with rare, antique objects so that his whole family can learn more about this history of their people. With his knowledge of the areaâ€™s hiking trails, the best fishing spots and the behaviour of local wildlife, he acts both as a guide and a story-teller who enjoys conveying his passion for Mongolian culture to others.
Agronomists and Veterinarians without Borders (AVSF) has been working with these farmers and herders in Mongolia since 2004 for the Federation of ArkhangaÃ¯ Herders and for the KhangaÃ¯ Mountain Yak Herders. AVSF trains nomadic herders in basic veterinary care and also works with them on sustainable pastoral resource management, combing techniques, logistical organisation and the transformation and sale of their produce. It is also thanks to this support that all the qualities of the KhangaÃ¯ herdersâ€™ yak down can be asserted.
Our Value Chain
With support and guidance from AVSF throughout every stage of its development, the Cooperative acts a first stage in the production chain which ends with the dehairing of the fibres before being exported and / or spun.
Itâ€™s commitment to quality also involves a whole series of issues and training programmes for its members: ensuring the animalsâ€™ health and welfare, teaching and improving combing techniques, putting more into checking and sorting techniques, getting involved in the dehairing phases, checking the quality of down before dispatch, analysing marketsâ€™ needs and expectations, providing a service which is in accordance with customer requirements and redistributing benefits to the herders according to the volumes harvested.
In order to diversify herdersâ€™ income, whilst remaining faithful to their â€œYak Cultureâ€, the Cooperative decided to promote other activities during periods when herding work is less intense, such as selling yarn hand-spun by the herdersâ€™ wives during winter and accommodating tourists in membersâ€™ yurts during the summer.
Our Commitments, our Label
The Cooperative and its members commit to supporting the following principles:
– Specific Mongolian Yak breed
– Free-ranging yak within a bounded territory of ArkhangaÃ¯
– Supplement-free natural feed (mountain vegetation)
– Animal health and welfare best practice
– Harvest of Baby Yak Down under precise temperatures
– Traceability of fibre throughout the process till the selection center.
– Washing and dehairing to precise specifications
– Quality assurance through frequent controls and tests
– Cooperative Label to identify the origin of exported product
– Our Label of Origin confirms the quality commitment of Cooperative members for each combed, processed and exported fibre.
There are a whole range of quality controls at each phase of the down production process, all the way through to export. European partners and customers of the Cooperative who share and apply the same values when transforming the fibres can apply the Cooperativeâ€™s Label of Origin to their products (yarn, fabric, end products). This is a sign of expertise, commitment to quality and a guarantee of origin.