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Responsible Mohair Standard (RMS) certification assesses animal welfare and handling, social welfare, land management and provides a reliable and verifiable chain of custody for mohair. This chain of custody is maintained through transaction certificates that accompany certified mohair through the supply chain as the mohair moves from one stakeholder to the next. The RMS provides third party verification throughout the value chain.
The RMS was developed by Textile Exchange in conjunction with the South African mohair industry and was officially launched in March 2020.
The South African mohair industry secured the services of a dedicated veterinarian in 2012, who was integral in helping to develop the animal welfare standards and best practices for Angora goat farming.
By the end of 2022, 71% of the South African mohair sold on the 14 official mohair auctions was RMS certified. We continue to engage with the commercial farmers who have not yet adopted RMS. There are challenges for herder, communal and small-scale farmers in South Africa to access RMS certification, and the mohair from these farmers makes up approximately 15% of our clip.
Communal Farmer Group certification module
Textile Exchange launched a Communal Farmer Group certification module for all animal fibres when they launched their Responsible Alpaca Standard in 2021. This module adapts the audit model used for commercial farmers to recognise the constraints faced by communal farmers. So far, this has only been used for alpaca and wool certification. Textile Exchange is continuing to refine this module and hopes that farming groups in South Africa will use it for non-commercial wool and mohair farmers in the future.
Farmers can choose to be individually certified, in which case they will have annual audits by a third-party certification body. Nevertheless, farmers more often choose to become certified as part of a farming group. In the farming group model a farmer must be audited annually by one of the South African mohair brokers who have registered RMS farming groups.
In addition a proportion of the farming group will undergo an annual third-party audit. In South Africa, the only certification body accredited by Textile Exchange is Control Union. To make a claim about the RMS status of any product, the entire value chain needs to be certified. In South Africa, the local mohair value chain post farm gate is RMS certified – from broker, buyer, processor, dyehouses and the two industrial spinners.
Partnership with Oritain
To manage traceability, Mohair SA partnered with Oritain, a world leader in using forensic science and technology to verify the origin of products and raw materials. Currently we have a 100% fit-for-purpose database for South African mohair which means that Oritain can identify the origin of the mohair in an item that contains 100% mohair.
We have recently launched a pilot project with a group of South African farmers that will allow the mohair in the value chain to be traced to the farm of origin. This technology has the future potential to identify the origin of mohair in various blends.
With transparency being of key importance, this partnership with Oritain will enhance the industry’s future in sustainable sourcing. The South African mohair industry is aware of the negative impact of climate change and supports the efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 which can positively affect the planet.
Mohair SA recently signed an agreement with a third party company to embark on a life cycle assessment (LCA) for the industry. The data collection will commence in the second quarter of 2023. The various stages of the LCA will include, pre- and post- farm gate, and to the end of life.
By conducting an LCA, we will obtain a baseline of the impact that our industry has on the planet. We can then use this to highlight the positive impact and implement the necessary changes to improve. One of the ways to positively affect the environment is by implementing regenerative agriculture practices at the pre-farm gate stage. The mohair industry encourages our farmers to focus their efforts on regenerative thinking and farm management practices.
There are various land management training courses available, and we encourage farmers to take advantage of these opportunities. The South African mohair industry is committed to producing mohair ethically and sustainably by offering RMS, a traceability solution, and the implementation of an LCA to quantify and improve the impact we have on the environment. – Press release, Mohair SA