December 2019 Newsletter

December 2019 Newsletter

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Dear Stakeholder,

As the year draws to a close, we would like to share updates on our findings from SAMC’s attendance at the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference, as well as progress on the development of the Responsible Mohair Standard.

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The future is firmly focused on sustainability, responsible production and manufacture, and traceability in the supply chain.

Global retailers are driving considerable change within their procurement policies, pushing enormous pressure down the value chain. In many spheres, South Africa is behind the curve, and the decision to attend this year’s annual Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference was clear for the following reasons:

  1. South Africa is the world’s largest contributor of mohair – a renewable natural animal fibre, with animal welfare critical to the sustainability of the sector
  2. The mohair sector is highly valuable to South Africa, in terms of both economic and job contributions
  3. 95% of the mohair produced in SA is exported – it is critical that we learn and understand global sustainability expectations and requirements
  4. As the leading global producer of mohair, it is imperative that we lead in sustainable practices
  5. The Responsible Mohair Standard is being developed by Textile Exchange and was presented at the conference

Attendance to the conference allowed SAMC to learn from industry experts regarding today’s most pressing sustainability topics, connect with a diverse group of leaders from across the supply chain, and discover emerging trends and opportunities in textile sustainability.

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SAMC is working closely with Guy Joubert from Cape Union Mart on a WWF-endorsed project. It is believed that Cape Union Mart, through the WWF project, represent a great example of the leadership South Africa needs in order to start driving a more responsible and transparent textile and apparel sector. Additionally, the WWF project presents an opportunity to deliver sustainably-produced mohair and wool, manufactured from quality traceable yarns from South Africa to the global market. Guy joined Camila Gillman at the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference in Vancouver.

“I cannot express how much value I found in attending the Sustainability Conference,” said Guy. “It really highlighted how ‘dipping your toe in’ is over [with regards to sustainability]. You have to be fully committed to the cause – you need to be prepared to dive into the deep end. The Textile Exchange is clearly the pinnacle platform through which brands may begin their sustainability journeys, learning from the market leaders, whilst more experienced players are able to showcase their efforts.”

Camila and Guy attended the following sessions at the conference:

  • Basics of Sustainability Workshop
  • Responsible Wool and Mohair Round Table
  • The Mohair Story
  • Animal Fibres and Animal Welfare: What you need to know and what you need to do!
  • Plenary 8: Creating Consumer Awareness

SAMC wish to extend a message of congratulations to MSA and to Lindsay Humphreys for her outstanding representation at the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference. SAMC is proud to be in partnership with MSA and to be working together to support such an important cause.

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The journey to build a more sustainable sector has been substantial, and SAMC are proud to have supported MSA in achieving critical goals and milestones. By now, every known commercial Angora goat farm in South Africa has been assessed against the MSA Sustainability Guidelines, with the majority of farmers conforming to the guidelines.

Having concluded the assessments, it was understood that 2019 needed to see responsible mohair production taken to the next level through an internationally-accredited sustainability standard.

While MSA launched the Sustainability Guidelines a decade ago, and while these have been utilised to drive responsible mohair production since then, the guidelines weren’t internationally-recognised. They therefore did not deliver the confidence international markets require in terms of their own responsible procurement policies.

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Mohair South Africa has been working with Textile Exchange to develop a Responsible Mohair Standard (RMS), modelled on the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) for over a year, and the RMS is currently out for final public consultation for a period of 60 days. All feedback will be in by 7 January 2020, whereafter Textile Exchange will work through final changes. Finally, a voting process will take place, and the RMS is anticipated to be launched in the first quarter of 2020.

The RMS means that for the first time in history, an internationally-recognised sustainability standard will be in place to guide and inform responsible production of mohair from an animal welfare, environmental and social perspective. Already the sustainability status of each farmer is presented on auction catalogues, making responsibly-produced mohair accessible.

As far as the future is concerned, SAMC will support MSA’s focus on education and addressing social challenges facing the sector for 2020. While farmers share a symbiotic relationship with their goats, farmworkers are there to earn money. Together with the South Africa Mohair Growers Association (SAMGA), MSA will implement worker training throughout the country. A Best Practice Committee between the wool and mohair sectors has been formed to address animal welfare and social impact.

To guide farmers in an evolution from sustainable guidelines to the RMS, SAMC are supporting MSA in developing a host of educational manuals and virtual reality videos covering topics such as handling, shearing, dipping, dosing, tattooing, injecting and different languages. These tools will be utilised to underpin education efforts.

While 2019 has been a challenging year, we can most certainly celebrate the progress made in developing a more sustainable mohair sector.

Well wishes for the year end, and a happy New Year.

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