Every August 1, Peru commemorates National Alpaca Day, an occasion to celebrate one of the world's two High-Andean domesticated camelids, as well as a source of income —and pride— for the country.
According to the 4th National Farming Census, the Inca country is home to 87% (over 3.6 million) of the world's alpaca population, which can be found in 17 regions.
South-Andean Puno and Cusco regions boast the bulk of these fluffy animals, at 1,459,903 and 545,454 specimens, respectively.
99% of these are owned by small-scale breeders, whereas the remaining 1% belong to other institutions like medium and large enterprises, associations and farming communities.
Alpacas' economic value lies mainly in their soft, silky and durable fiber, which has unique thermal insulation properties due to its structure with microscopic air pockets.
Alpaca fiber has a range of about 32 naturally occurring hues, which adds to its appeal for the world's greatest fashion designers.
In addition, alpaca fleece is highly versatile and can be transformed into a wide array of goods: garments, accessories and handicrafts.
In this sense, exports of fine carded alpaca fiber have made considerable progress, growing 26.2% in 2013.
In November 2014, the Andean nation announced the launch of Alpaca del Peru (Peru's Alpaca), a sector brand to promote alpaca fiber in international luxury garment markets.
The brand has represented Peru in international trade events like CHIC (Shanghai), Cashmere World (Hong Kong), Expo Peru Corea 2015, Pure London (UK), Who's Next (France), and Peru Moda in Paris.
Peru's major gastronomic boom in recent years has also contributed to the promotion of alpaca meat, a nutritious, low-cholesterol alternative for health-oriented consumers.
For all of the above, Peru's Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry, alpaca breeder associations, as well as public and private institutions committed to the development of this camelid recognize the dedication of alpaca breeders across the country every August 1.