A fundamental tenet of FBMI is to be commercially viable and sustainable in the
long term. In order to achieve this, it operates a local value chain entirely within
Afghanistan; buying local wool to support farmers, using natural vegetable dyes
in the spinning operations, and producing finished carpets for export to world markets.
The carpets reflect the heritage of cottage-based craftsmanship passed through countless
generations of families. The majority of carpets produced by the initiative are
made from indigenous Afghan wool purchased from nomads that is then handspun to
add to the quality. Out of over 900 breeds of sheep, only a select few qualify to
meet the quality requirements of the wool used in the production of fine carpets.
Only the best section of the sheep's fleece is used for each carpet. The finest
quality wool used by the initiative ensures the carpets pile strength, sheen, smoothness
and durability. The initiative also produces carpets that are a combination of wool
and silk. All carpets are woven using a cotton foundation to ensure strength, reduce
shrinkage and guarantee the rug will keep its shape.
The carpets are designed by local university students who are supervised by Afghanistan’s
most famous carpet designer. Designs are both contemporary and dated using antique
motifs from carpets that are centuries old. Full scale graph paper is used which
indicates to the weaver the color for each knot. Every knot is represented by a
tiny square similar to pixels. Another key determinant of the fineness of a carpet
is the number of knots; the more intricate and finer the knotting, the higher the
quality of the carpet. The initiative further works to tackle environmental degradation
through the use of natural vegetable dyes and traditional washing methods; thus
ensuring no environmental damage to the Kabul River, which runs into Pakistan and
eventually joins the Indus.