ORGANIC ALPACA FIBER PROJECT, PERU
For over 8,000 years, the graceful Andean alpaca has dominated the highest mountains of the New World, grazing on wild pastures 4,000 meters above sea level. With their close relatives, the vicuņa, llama and guanaco, these animals have provided fiber, fuel, hides, meat and a means of transport to native inhabitants in one of the most difficult and delicate environments of the earth.
Pressure for increased production of white fiber, overgrazing and poor animal husbandry practices have deteriorated the natural habitat of the alpaca, causing the loss of both natural colors and the fineness of the hair in general. Herders have begun to rely on costly and often toxic chemicals to fight external and internal parasites and diseases, while the commercial value of fine, naturally colored fleece continues to decrease.
In support of these noble Andean herders, Peru Naturtex Partners has established a program to value natural colored animals and to increase the use of natural methods of pest and disease control. Since 1995 a 7,000-hectare farm belonging to a regional NGO has been certified as organic for the rearing of alpacas and llamas under the professional care of both trained veterinaries and Indian pastoralists. Some natural techniques are centuries old, others are based on modern methods of range control and pasture rotation.
Although no established "rules" exist for organic range management of alpacas or other grazing animals, Skalhas elected to adopt the principles of organic dairy farming in Europe as model of our project. We encourage the replanting of native grasses on the open fields, rotation of pasturage to reduce ectoparasite infestations and distribution of manure as fertilizer. No chemical ingredients are permitted, either on the land or on the animals.
Commercially, Peru Naturtex Partners has established a price for naturally colored fiber at the same level as white fiber, thus giving incentive to the herder not to artificially eliminate this source of genetic variety vital for the future of the alpaca as a species. In 1998, we obtained our first full organic lot of alpaca fiber, including grades of fine baby and suri, as well as super fine and adult qualities.
Fiber sorting employs dozens of women highly skilled in quality control and tactile recognition of fiber fineness. The fiber is spun in a Skal inspected mill under direct supervision. You can support the traditional Andean herders by identifying and selecting garments with the Greenpeace alpaca label.
Our SKAL certified products are identified by the EKO-quality symbol, free of all artificial contents, in the fields, factories, fabrics and families of our customers.