Woollen clothing is the most preferred apparel for winter. For several centuries, wool has been used as a clothing material. Despite the availability of several artificial clothing fabrics, wool continues to be used in the textile industry the world over. Wool fibre is used to make sweaters, blankets, quilts, and other products used extensively in winter.
Ranked as the 9th largest wool producer in the world, India accounts for 3.1% of total wool production in the world. India produces three main types of wool: Carpet grade, apparel grade, and coarser grade.
The woollen textile sector in India consists of composite mills, combing units, spinning mills, carpet manufacturing units, and woven and knitted garment units. Powerlooms, handlooms, knitting and hosiery, and dyeing units are also part of the decentralised wool industry. The wool industry of India directly provides employment to around 1.2 million people, and about 2 million people work in its associated industries.
Wool and its unique properties
Wool has several unique properties that differentiate it from other natural fibre.
- Natural UV protection
- Moisture wicking
- Antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
- Stain resistant.
- Flexible and durable
- Insulates even when wet
- Keeps the body cool in summer and warm in winter
Owing to these multitudes of distinctive properties, wool is used extensively to create a variety of other products that can be worn during summer as well.
Journey of wool from fibre to fabric
- Shearing: Wool processing begins with the shearing of wool-bearing animals.
- Scouring: The procured wool is washed using a solvent to remove the impurities.
- Carbonising: Wool is further processed to remove excessive cellulosic impurities.
- Sorting or grading: After scouring, wool is sorted or graded based on colour and length of fibre.
- Carding: Wool fibres are made into long strands.
- Spinning: Carded strands are spun into yarn.
- Weaving: After a final wash, the yarn is used to craft woollen textiles.
The wool industry of Jammu and Kashmir
Cashmere shawls produced from the wool of Cashmere goats indigenous to the region of Kashmir are world-renowned. Pure cashmere wool is priced high in the global markets. This ultra-fine Cashmere or Pashmina is produced by some communities in Kashmir. Several factors, like the rarity of wool, and its high price, make it very hard to source and pose constraints while regulating quality.
The second-largest producer of wool in the nation is Jammu and Kashmir. Despite the high output rate, the region lacks the necessary infrastructure to process the wool.
The COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing lockdowns have subjected numerous business sectors to financial distress. The wool industry which is vital to the livelihoods of agrarian and subsidiary industries in Jammu and Kashmir also suffered setbacks, impacting the local businesses of the region. Apart from quality, the lack of infrastructure and processing units also pose constraints for the wool textile industry to flourish in the region. As the raw wool is sold off to other states due to the absence of processing units, the farmers end up making meagre profits.
Problems faced by the wool industry in Jammu and Kashmir
- Ineffective market linkages
- Lack of processing units
- Poor price realisation
Reshamandi associates with the wool growers of Jammu & Kashmir
ReshaMandi after revolutionising the silk sector in our country has diversified into other natural fibre. In its latest endeavour, it has added wool to its natural fibre profile. With its ingress into the Kashmir region, it is associated with the wool growers of the valley. ReshaMandi is working to establish methods to revive the ailing sector in the valley that produces fine apparel wool.
ReshaMandi is creating a long-term road map by resolving the issues that are affecting the wool growers of the valley. It is implementing successful practices that it has established in the silk and cotton belts of India to benefit wool farmers.
ReshaMandi to streamline Kashmir’s wool sector
ReshaMandi is developing a wool value supply chain for the wool growers of the valley. It is implementing strategies to improve the quality of wool produced and offer quality-based pricing for farmers. It is trying to resolve other glitches in the wool supply chain by facilitating hassle-free procurement of wool.
ReshaMandi plans to organise the unorganised wool sector through centralised shredding units and processing centres in the valley. This will immensely benefit the wool industry, as most of the raw wool produced in the valley is sent to neighbouring states for processing, and also bring down the operation costs for the wool textile industry. ReshaMandi’s efforts are channelled towards providing effective market linkages to the wool growers of the valley and empowering them financially.