Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool. Cashmere wool has strong, light, soft and fine texture. The garments made from cashmere wool offers excellent insulation which is approximately three times better than those offered by the sheep wool.
The cashmere wool is obtained from 4 distinct breeds of the Cashmere goat:
- Changthangi or Kashmir Pashmina goat from the Changthang Plateau of Kashmir,
- Malra breed from Kargil area of Kashmir,
- Chegu breed from Himachal Pradesh,
- Chyangara or Nepalese Pashmina breed from Nepal.
Due to the very low diameter of the cashmere fibre, the pashmina is entirely hand processed. All the steps such as combing, spinning, weaving and finishing are entirely carried out by hand by specialized craft persons to products such as shawls, wraps, throws, scarves, stoles etc.
Pashmina products are made only in Kashmir. However, in recent times Nepal has also started to produce them.
Members of the Changpa tribe are the traditional producers of the Pashmina wool in the Ladakh region. Changpa tribes are nomadic people who rear sheep for meat and pashmina goats for wool in the Changthang plateau of the Kashmir.
Problems faced by Pashmina industry
- Militancy in Kashmir has negative impacts for the business ideas of the Kashmiri entrepreneurs.
- Lack of Government support: World Bank’s ‘Assessment of State Implementation of Business Reforms’ report has ranked Jammu and Kashmir at 29 (out of 32) in India. Excessive scrutiny of the investments coming in to Kashmir valley acts as a big impediment to the growth of business in the state.
- Many factories have started to produce kashmiri products outside the state resulting in loss of employment and business opportunities for the local people. For example, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali is selling Kashmiri saffron and many such factories selling kashmiri products are located in other parts of the country especially in Punjab.
- Faking of Pashmina wool and textiles is rampant.