Mon, March 30, 2009
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Russia's reindeers beat recession

2009-03-30 09:30:02 GMT2009-03-30 17:30:02 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

Russians in the far north of the country are turning to ancient handicrafts and reindeer husbandry to help survive hard economic times.

Russia has about two-thirds of the world's population of domesticated reindeer, herded on a territory of more than three million square kilometres on the tundra, forest-tundra, taiga and mountain areas. Reindeer husbandry is one of the most important areas of indigenous employment especially in the remote Arctic and Siberian regions and forms the basis of local culture and traditions.

SCRIPT:

Russia is home to two thirds of the world's population of domesticated reindeer.

They're also an important source of income in the remote Arctic and Siberian regions.

This collective farm in the village of Bolshaya Inta has been the backbone of the local economy for almost 70 years.

The farm's head vet explains that every part of the reindeer is put to good use.

(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) HEAD VETERINARIAN OF "BOLSHAYA INTA" ENTERPRISE, YEVGENY MALTSEV, SAYING:

"First of all we collect "kamus" - that's what we call the skin taken from reindeer legs."

Three kamus' are needed to make pims - the traditional and unique - shoes which are worn by most locals.

(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ENTERPRISE EMPLOYEE, NINA ARTEEVA, SAYING:

"We never make the same decoration twice, so we know who's made every pair of shoes. We often walk through town and see somebody wearing our pims - you recognise them immediately."

The pims are sewn entirely by hand and the process hasn't changed for generations.

(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ENTERPRISE EMPLOYEE, NADEZHDA KAPSHUKOVA, SAYING:

"We like making pims for women best. The ones for men are too big and children's ones too small. The women's ones are perfect size and they get the best decorations."

Making money is hard in this remote region so far north - particularly in the current economic climate.

But the locals here make the most of their natural resources.

The reindeer skins are also used to make a variety of clothes and the meat is sold for food.

The pims from this farm are transported to industrial towns further south.

They go by train not sleigh but this farm's success is evidence that traditional enterprises still have a place in the modern world.

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