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On my most recent trip to the Peruvian workshops, I was able to see the working and production conditions of our textiles for myself.

 

But our responsibility goes even further, from the production of the yarns to the alpaqueros, families who breed alpacas and make a living by selling the wool.

 


There are more than 4 million alpacas in Peru, which makes up around 87 % of the world's alpaca population and makes the country the leading nation in alpaca wool production.

 

Alpaca wool worth around 200 million US dollars is exported every year.

At the beginning of the value chain are the more than 82,000 breeders.

Around 85% of the alpaca wool exported each year comes from families who own between 20 and 100 animals. They live in the high Andes, where farming is unprofitable due to the climatic conditions.

 

Life in these areas is becoming more difficult every year due to droughts and frosts. Climate change is having a huge impact on the grazing areas for the animals. At the same time, the alpaqueros want to keep more animals to increase their income despite the decline in grazing land.

 

The traditional processes for caring for, feeding and shearing the alpacas are being seriously disrupted. Frosts outside the frost season and water shortages due to a lack of rainfall are affecting the pastures, leading to increasingly frequent feed shortages.

 

The result is a high mortality rate among crias (young animals) in the first few weeks after birth and also among adult animals.

And although the government introduced a state subsidy for breeders affected by the drought and frost in 2023, this only covers a fraction of the losses.

Training programs to improve the quality of the Ministry of Agriculture in 2022 have had little effect and are slow to reach those affected.

One promising way to improve the situation at regional level is for growers to join together in cooperatives or similar organizations.

 

This should make it possible for breeders to generate a sufficient income in the long term with a constant herd size in order to maintain age-old traditions.

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