Kill the chill with Arunachal yak wool

Kill the chill with Arunachal yak wool

At least 30 yak farmers, mainly women have been trained to make jackets, caps, sweaters and other garments from the yak wool and jute fibre to provide them with a new source of earning and thereby offer warmer clothes for those grappling with severe cold.

If your woollens are not keeping you warm enough this winter, yak wool from Arunachal Pradesh can offer an alternative.

The National Research Centre on Yaks (NRCY), based at Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh has prepared winter clothes from yak wool mixed with jute fibre, which according to the scientists are 40% warmer than the popular merino wool, protects from ultraviolet rays and are equally stylish in design.

At least 30 yak farmers, mainly women have been trained to make jackets, caps, sweaters and other garments from the yak wool and jute fibre to provide them with a new source of earning and thereby offer warmer clothes for those grappling with severe cold.

"We have already prepared some items, which are on display for sale in our institute. Some tourists who came here liked the items and now we are looking for garment companies or skill development groups for commercial production. Yak farmers used to consider the fibre as waste item and only used to prepare rope for their use at home. But the training has offered them a new source of income. We want to upgrade skills of the weavers to improve the designs,” Tarunpal Singh, a scientist in the centre’s livestock products department told DH from Dirang.

Dirang is situated at about 5,000-feet in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The training was provided to the farmers at ICAR-National Institute of Research on Jute and Allied Fibre Technology in Kolkata. A jacket is priced at Rs. 1,200 at present but the price can be increased if the designs are improved, he said.

The NRCY conducts scientific research and training programmes on yaks reared in high altitude areas of the Himalayan region, mainly Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir (Leh-Ladakh). “But such products have been prepared only here,” Singh said adding that they are selling paneer made from yak milk too.

There are more than 13,700 yaks in six blocks of Tawang and West Kameng districts in Arunachal Pradesh.

Pranab Jyoti Das, a senior scientist, who was associated with the project before Singh took over said, "Yak wool is amorphous and so water doesn't go through it. A yak wool item can provide the same warmth as a merino wool garment and be 17% lighter. It can keep you warm in temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius while merino wool can tackle conditions of up to minus 10 degrees Celsius." 

Yak wool reduces the chances of retaining body odour as it quickly absorbs sweat and releases it into the air, Das added.

 
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