from Sands of Jaisalmer

 

Camel wool has traditionally been used by camel breeders for the crafting of household items, including ropes, blankets, rugs, charpoys and even jackets. However, no marketing of camel wool items has ever taken place, nor have there ever been any attempts to develop new products that would be of interest to urban consumers. It was assumed that the wool of the one-humped camel was too coarse and too short to produce appealing products.

However, recent experiments with camel wool samples provided by the project in Jaisalmer have come to a different conclusion.  Scientific analysis of two samples indicates a great degree of variation in fibre thickness. One of the samples had an average thickness of 23 micron, but with the majority of fibres being in the 17-20 micron range, which is equivalent to Cashmere quality. The length of the fibre was 5.9 cm in this sample.

Camel wool samples developed and showcased in Gifts fair, New Delhi

Sample 2 had an average fibre thickness of 26 micron and an average length of 5.4 cm.

The conclusion from these tests is that camel wool needs to be separated by fibre quality, with some of the fine wool being suitable for soft and high-quality garments, and the coarser section providing opportunities for manufacturing bags and carpets.

Judging from the marketing success of items crafted from coarse Deccani wool which have met large international demand, camel wool represents a significant rural employment opportunity, mainly from setting up processing units, but also a welcome additional source of income for the camel breeders.

LPPS is working with 543 camel breeding families in 120 villages of Jaisalmer district which own 26400 camels between them. The camel breeders have organised into 36 Self Help groups in six clusters. There are also several women’s groups with 68 members.

Apart from Jaisalmer district, LPPS is well connected with camel breeders in Pali district, as well as many other parts of Rajasthan.

Estimating an average wool yield of 0.6 kg per camel[1], a theoretical amount of about 15000 kg of camel wool is available in Jaisalmer district alone.

 

Goal

The goal is to create additional local income opportunities for camel breeding families, as well as for other communities with a crafts background by harvesting, value-adding, and marketing camel wool, a natural resource that is currently not being utilized.

Objectives/Thrust

  • Capacity-building of camel breeders and family members in shearing, carding, and spinning camel wool, as well as in selected processing techniques
  • Developing a range of products from camel wool, ranging from fine wool (stoles, garments, blankets) to coarse wool (bags, rugs, etc.) items
  • Establishing a market for the camel wool products

Activities

The project will consist of five activity areas.

  1. 1.   Environment Building and Motivation
  2. 1.     Capacity-building in harvesting, processing and value addition of camel wool.
  3. 1.     Product Development and design diversification
  4. 1.     Setting up a Marketing Chain for Camel Wool
  5. 1.     Institution-building and Sustainability

Wool can generate income for camel breeders at two levels: Sale of the raw material and employment from spinning. Assuming a price of Rs. 30/kg and an average yield of 0.8 kg per camel, the returns would be 24 Rs/camel once a year. This does not amount to a major profit, and the main benefit is expected to be from creating income from spinning, an activity that has the advantage of being possible to pursue at home and thus opens up opportunity for wage labour for women which are extremely secluded currently and cannot leave their house. This could be a windfall especially for widows from the Rajput community.

Another group of people that would benefit are crafts persons from Meghwal and other communities that would involve in various types of weaving.