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Cashmere cooperation

A chance conversation between Scottish and Norwegian scientists in an Aberdeenshire pub could lead to closer cooperation between the cashmere industry in the two countries, writes the Scotsman.

08/07/2004 :: A chance conversation between Scottish and Norwegian scientists in an Aberdeenshire pub could lead to closer cooperation between the cashmere industry in the two countries, writes the Scotsman.

Norwegian agricultural experts and cashmere producers visited Scotland to study stock and production techniques and visited the Aberdeen headquarters of the Macaulay Institute, Britain’s leading land use research centre, as well as the institute’s Sourhope Research Station near Kelso.
 
Hilary Redden, a fibre biologist at the Macaulay Institute who was closely involved in the Norwegian visit, revealed yesterday that, as a direct consequence, the leading cashmere producers in Norway have decided to form their own national cashmere association. Plans are also being drawn up for semen from Scottish cashmere goats to be exported to Norway, probably later this year.

"It is encouraging to receive this response from the Norwegian industry," said Redden. "The growth and development of cashmere production in Norway will help boost the Scottish industry.”

"The stronger the sector becomes in Norway, the more scope there could be for further exports from Scotland, both in terms of goat semen and quality fibre."

Norway is already an important export outlet for Scottish cashmere fibre.

The Scottish Cashmere Producers’ Association, which markets harvested fibre on behalf of its farmer members, supplied Oleana, the leading Norwegian-based textile company, with 200kg of fibre in 2003 and will supply a further 200kg in 2004.

Dr Lars Olav Eik, one of the scientists from the Agricultural University of Norway who accompanied the producers on the Scottish tour, said: "The idea of forming the Norwegian Cashmere Association has grown out of a discussion which began in a pub in the north-east of Scotland, just after we had visited Sourhope and Macaulay’s headquarters in Aberdeen. The breeding and development work carried out by the institute in relation to cashmere production impressed us all.”

"As a result of what we saw during our visit, I expect goat semen from Scotland to be sold into Norway this year."

An estimated 50 Norwegian goat farmers are expected to meet in Gol in central Norway today to establish their new association.

The Scottish association was set up 18 years ago to help promote and develop the niche industry and there are now more than 2,500 goats in the national cashmere herd.

The Scottish cashmere goat was developed from hardy feral goats which roamed the hills and uplands of Scotland for hundreds of years and are still found in parts of Galloway, the Borders, the Highlands and the Western Isles.

The cashmere herds in Scotland were improved by careful cross-breeding with goats from Iceland, Siberia, New Zealand, and Tasmania with Scottish cashmere knitwear now being sold in exclusive stores from Milan to Tokyo.

 

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 Photo courtesy of Norsk Sau og Geitalslag