Calder Textiles wool mill in Afghan cashmere deal
A textile mill in West Yorkshire has been asked by the US government to help promote cashmere wool produced by goat farmers in Afghanistan.
Calder Textiles, based in Dewsbury, is now dyeing cashmere wool from the Herat area in the hope Afghan firms can develop a market.
Stephen Norris from the firm said the US wanted to kick-start manufacturing across the war-torn country.
Samples of the wool will be exhibited across the world, Mr Norris said.
Mr Norris, who is in charge of dyeing at the Dewsbury mill, said the firm had been approached by a third party on behalf of the US government.
He said: "The idea is to take our samples to textile exhibitions across the world to promote this product - then others can buy yarn direct from the Afghans."'High end fashion'
Mr Norris said the mill had been asked to produce coloured samples which could be taken to exhibitions around the globe with the aim of drumming up interest in the region's wool and showing Afghan farmers the potential market for their manufactured goods.
"We were approached three of four months ago and introduced to a person on behalf of the US government who has a remit to resurrect the textile mills that are in mothballs in Afghanistan and to regenerate the industry in that country," Mr Norris said.
"He turned up with samples of cashmere that just been had spun in Kabul and he's given us a shade pallet to reproduce.
"The wool is a brown colour so we've had to pre-bleach the yarn, it's purely samples we're talking about."
Mr Norris said the West Yorkshire mill would not be involved in the production of finished articles from the wool.
These, he said, would be "high end" fashion items including scarves which he thought would be produced in the far east.
He said the aim of the American-backed project was to encourage Afghan workers to restart their mills and manufacture the yarn.
A spokesman for the US Department of Defense said: "This is one of the many projects worked by our Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), to develop sustainable enterprises and provide real revenues for the country.
"Afghanistan is currently the world's third largest producer of cashmere, but has significant potential to increase production.
"The Task Force is working on a project promoting the business opportunities for Afghan-made cashmere, as well as other indigenous industries."