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Creating Sustainable Markets Strengthen Pastoralists and Their Profession

URMUL Seemant Samiti

Pastoralists have a unique problem when it comes to finding the right market for the wool that they get from their sheep. The nature of the wool from sheep is coarse and there are limited uses for it. At the same time, pastoralists who are on the road might have to shear their sheep and leave hundreds of kilograms of wool behind because they do not have a way to carry this wool to an appropriate buyer. 


Due to these and other such issues, pastoralism has been declining as a traditional livelihood option. The decline of pastoralism also harms the local ecology. Urmul Seemant Samiti is an NGO that has taken various steps to improve this situation. Urmul works with pastoral communities in the Thar Desert region of north-western Rajasthan, where basic facilities and resources are scarce.


There are many challenges when it comes to marketing pastoral products like wool, milk, and meat. To address this, Urmul introduced the Magra Model, which focuses on organising the back end of the nomadic pastoralist context. The project focuses on enhancing the capacities of pastoralist communities so that they produce high-quality products and can find the right markets to sell their products. Urmul aims to create a sustainable and aspirational livelihood context for pastoralist communities. The project also works on creating a fair price market for pastoral fibres and exploring their applications in the built environment, insulation, and packaging. Urmul aims to extend learnings and achievements from this initiative to other pastoral communities nationally and internationally.


Pastoralists such as Fakir Khan have benefited immensely from the project. Having a ready market for the wool they shear means they have a dependable source of income. The project has also made it possible for pastoralists in the area to come together, strengthen their skills, and collaborate to improve the value chain for pastoral products. This development is especially significant because it means that pastoralism can be revived as a sustainable livelihood and a profession that can be taken up by the younger generation. This also has a positive implication on the ecological and biodiversity quotient of the region, which is augmented by pastoralism. 


With support from the Magra Project, Fakir Khan feels more secure in his profession and that he can provide better for his family. He is hopeful that Urmul will continue to connect pastoral communities to innovative strategies so that they can keep developing their skills and income.

" We have been rearing cattle and shearing wool for generations. However, so much of the wool we shear used to be wasted. With this new initiative we can take our valuable product to the right buyers and also make good money from it,”

says  Fakir Khan

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