300 grams of fine down per yak, hand combed with care, exquisite quality!

The 2013 yak combing season is just round the corner. Here’s a short video from Mongolia based journalist Pearly Jacob who came with us for the 2012 combing season to meet yak herders in the Khangai Mountains, the heart of the cooperative. The video offers an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of yak herders and personal stories of how the cooperative is helping unite the nomadic community to work towards their shared vision for a equitable and sustainable future.

Combing Yaks from Pearly Jacob on Vimeo.


His name is Tsonomtseren, he lives in Ondor Ulan sum of Arkhangai. Tsonomtseren, 70 is a well respected herder, chief of the local Group of Herders for Animal Health, and one of the founders of the Cooperative of Yak Herders from Khangai Mountains.

With his group, Tsonomtseren wants to develop oat culture and pass on his knowledge at making traditional leather horse riding accessories. AVSF put his micro-project online on a fundraising platform. You can find more details on this beautiful story here:



Highland Yarn

A behind the scenes peek at a spinning training session. Ten members of the Coop and their spinning wheels traveled to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, for the final briefing before winter closes in and our women begin spinning in earnest. A unique line of hand spun yak down yarn will soon be added to the cooperative’s catalogue this coming season.

Highland Yarn from Pearly Jacob on Vimeo.

Co-op Member Yarn Spinning Trainings

This summer the Co-op of Khangai Mountains began to deliver trainings to its members for spinning yarn from their yak down fiber.  Trainings were conducted in the homes of 10 Co-op members by a yarn spinning specialist in June and July.  Participating members were selected based on their yarn spinning expertise and interest in crafting yarn using spinning wheels.  With a sub-grant contributed by the non-profit organisation Mercy Corps, the Co-op, working with AVSF, were able to acquire 10 Ashford spinning wheels for this value chain project.

After the training is complete this summer, the next step this fall is for the Co-op to connect with buyers interested in quality hand-crafted yak down yarn.  To find out more about the trainings, and to see the blog contributed by our yarn spinning specialist, Marilyn, click here.


le fils de Ganchulun, futur membre?

The son of Ganchulun, and future member?

In Spring 2011 with the weather having been relatively mild, the members of the co-operative began combing their yaks around May 15th.  Depending on the valleys and the altitude of their locations the date varied for the members.  The choice of date for combing is to the yak herder what the choice of the date for grape harvesting is to the vine grower.  Neither too early, nor too late, it’s necessary for the herders to decipher the nature of the whims of the weather.  An expertise that the herders continue to develop year after year.

Identification of the raw material

Exceeding its objectives for this year, in part by attracting new members, the co-operative Ar Arvidjin Delgerekh showed unprecedented dynamic enthusiasm.  The combed fibres, the quantity of which has clearly increased, were then transported from the herder’s homes to Tsetserleg, the capital of the province of Arkhangai.  They were then recently forwarded to Ulaanbaatar to be washed and dehaired in the accordance with standard practices by one of the most well-respected factories in the country.

“Idesh”, the spirit of solidarity

January 2011

In the heart of winter, the members of the Co-operative of Herders of Arkhangai came together for the meeting of the General Assembly.  The Board of Director of the Co-op opted to relocate the meeting closer to the herders in an effort to overcome logistical problems and to encourage maximum member turnout.  As a result, the meeting benefited from 85% member participation!

The meeting was an opportunity to apply one of the basic principles of fair trade: democracy and transparency. The main topics discussed were:

  • A detailed explanation of the financial statements of the Co-operative.  How the money was earned, how it was spent and how much money remains in the end this year.
  • A rereading of the founding text of the Co-op: the statutes and rules of procedure.  Several debates have helped to make changes to these texts, validated by vote.
  • Deciding how to redistribute benefits to members of the Co-op: the creation of a price floor above the current market helped by the high level price differences that had arisen during the collection (price varied by region and date of collection). The traceability system developed was used to repay bonuses to members based on the quality of their combing.
  • Organizing votes for the election of the Board of Directors and Control Committee of the coop.
  • Discussing the themes of transformation efficiency, quality and traceability. Deciding to increase yield and improve quality and traceability.

With the conclusion of this meeting, the cooperative has successfully completed its first year of operation.  Its objective–to demonstrate the realism of an idealistic project–has been reached.  In the meeting, future objectives of the Co-op were discussed and  a new goal of the Cooperative Ar Arvijin Delgerekh was agreed upon by its members.  “To produce the best yak down  in the world, with all means employed to achieve this result .”

In the Khanghai Mountains, where people live by their word, such a statement is never made lightly.

A glimpse into the Co-op

A glimpse into the Co-operative through a short video introducing our activities, our fibers and our goals.

This website is under construction. Please be patient.

For more information, feel free to contact us directly or leave a comment on this post :

Cédric Bussac

country representative                                                                                                AVSF Mongolia