There is no other commercial crop which has all the advantages of Mulberry Sericulture. Firstly, in the water-stress conditions of India, it is not a water guzzler and its water requirement is much less than that of sugarcane or paddy. In times of drought the mulberry plant does not die as its deep roots access the ground water. Even in the worst drought year the actual rainfall is not less than about 40% of the normal annual rainfall. While other crops will wither away with less than half the total rainfall, mulberry does not wither and its leaves sprout whenever there is a rain. Since in rainfed conditions a sericulturist traditionally takes five crops annually, in a drought year he would take two crops which is an insurance against drought for him. In a normal year, as the farmer can get at least five crops a year, his income and cash flow is distributed throughout the year instead of just once a year. There are farmers with irrigation facility and adequate rearing space and equipment who harvest cocoons every month. There are many government regulated cocoon markets where many reelers assemble and buy the cocoons in open auction. This is the only agricultural product where the farmer gets the price for his product by open auction the same day. In the 50 or so cocoon markets in the country, not a single kilogram of cocoons remains unsold because the demand for cocoons outstrips the supply. Similarly, not a single kilogram of silk yarn remains unsold.
It is a plantation crop and once the plants are established in the first year it need not be replaced for about ten years with proper maintenance, farmyard manure and weeding. There are very few major diseases affecting mulberry. There are a few diseases during rearing of silkworms but these can be avoided by adhering to chawki reared silkworms and hygienic conditions in the rearing room. It is a high employment generator as one acre of mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing can generate employment for five persons throughout the year upto the stage of reeling of cocoons. Rearing being an indoor activity, women account for over sixty percent of labour involved in cocoon production and it is a pleasant and less arduous work compared with working in the field. Women are ideally suited for silkworm rearing as, indeed, the silkworm is reared like a child and not “grown” as other crops.
Due to its labour intensity and indoor rearing, it is ideally suited for small farmers and rarely we come across farmers having more than ten acres of mulberry garden and rearing. There are also many landless persons who buy mulberry leaves on annual contract basis to rear silkworms at their homes and sell cocoons. The final product of pure silk cloth being a costly product, the ultimate consumers are well to do persons while the producers of cocoons and silk yarn are poor or middle-class. In this manner when silk fabric is bought, it transfers income from rich people to the poor. This also happens on an international scale because traditional silk-producing countries such as France and Italy, have given up cocoon production before the Second World War and Japan and South Korea after the war, because of the high labour cost and industrialization. In fact, till the outbreak of the Second World War Japan was the leading producer of silk in the world and it exported it to the West and with its trade surplus it imported machines and technology for its own industrialization. In the United States, the rich were referred to as “silk stockings”.
Every part of the mulberry and the cocoons are used and nothing is wasted. As the silkworm is choosy in eating the best part of the leaves, much of the leaves are left out which is excellent protein-rich food for cattle. In fact, in districts such as Kolar in Karnataka, the slogan is “Silk and Milk Go Together”. In China, the faecal matter of silkworms in the rearing bed after rearing is put into fish ponds which becomes good protein-rich feed for fish. It is environmentally beneficial as it does not dry out underground water like the Eucalyptus even though its volume of leafy growth is quite high. All parts of a cocoon, including the protein-rich pupa which remains after reeling the cocoons, produces oil and dry matter which are used in cosmetics and other industries. In North East of India the pupa is a good and healthy snack.
Dr. S B Dandin Vice President
In the modern era of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization, role of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) is very much necessary to safe guard the interest of all the stake holders involved in any production-based activities, where majority of stake holders are small and marginal farmers. CBOs come to the rescue of line departments and in taking the programs and schemes to reach the last mile beneficiaries as the extension machineries are getting down sized due to several reasons. Sericulture is one of the very few such enterprises which has high employment potential; better and frequent income to the farmers besides empowering large number of women in several activities of the production chain. Silk Association of India is a non-profit making organization solely devoted to support the promotion of sericulture industry of the country and address the issues and challenges being faced by all the stake holders involved in the production and value chain of silk. Having large number of stake holder members involved in majority of activities is in a better position to liaison between the Department of Sericulture of different states and Central Silk Board as a vital link and to help the industry to meet its set production and quality targets. It is sincerely hoped that the team of SAI will full fill its tasks as envisaged with its broad objectives and stakeholder oriented action plan.
Mr. Ramachandra Gowda Secretary
Silk industry comprises of varied activities right from mulberry cultivation, silkworm rearing, cocoon production, silk reeling, silk twisting, dying, weaving and finally trading the finished goods. Various stakeholders are involved in these different activities. Existence of the industry depends on survival of each sector. Hitherto stake holders were only concentrating on their problems and seeking solution independently. Sensing this present tendency, ultimately it may not be conducive for taking the industry forward, has led us to think “united we stand; divided we fall”.
With this forethought, Silk Association of India (SAI) was conceptualized and established in the year 2006. Thus the main aim is to bring all the stakeholders of India under a single roof, for the survival and progress of the industry. This is the best possible way to make the stake holders to appreciate each other’s contribution to the industry and find solutions to the problems of every kind collectively.
Silk Association of India intends to play a complementary role to all State Sericulture Departments and Central Silk Board in contributing to the progress of the industry. In this direction SAI is making all efforts to prove its role true to the letter and spirits of the aims of the Association.
I wish the SAI grow strong and become much more contributing organization for the development of Silk industry in India.
SILK ASSOCIATION OF INDIA
Silk Association of India (SAl), is a voluntary organization registered under the Karnataka Societies Act, 1960, in the year 2006.