Table of Contents
What is sericulture
In the production of silk, silkworms are cultivated and from them, silk is obtained. Caterpillars of the native silk moth (referred commonly as “Bombyx mori”) are used for silk production.
It is one of the chief national businesses in several countries. China and India are the main silk producers in the world. Combined silk production from China and India represents more than 60% of world production.
Moths of the families Bombycidae and Satumidae of Lepidoptera order and the Insecta class produce commercial silk. Different types of silk butterflies can produce commercial silk.
- The female moth lays a minimum of 300 and a maximum of 500 eggs.
- Silkmoth eggs hatch into larvae/caterpillars called silkworms.
- These larvae nourish on mulberry leaves.
- After the silkworm has grown and molted several times, it extrudes a silk fiber and forms a support network.
- It sways back and forth in a number “8” and distributes the saliva forming the silk.
- Silk becomes solid when it hits the air.
- The silkworm spins about a mile of filaments and is completely enclosed in a cocoon within a couple of days. The quantity of utilizable quality silk in every cocoon is small. Thus around 5000 silkworms are used for producing one KG of raw silk.
- The intact cocoons are boiled and the silkworm chrysalis is killed.
- Silk is made by brushing the intact cocoon.
- The silk filaments are winded up after this.
Types of sericulture
Advantages and disadvantages of sericulture
- Silk fibers are the main ingredient in making silk dresses like saris, etc.
- Silk is also used in the manufacture of fishing fibers, filter cloth, and parachutes.
- Silk is used in the medical field as well for suturing and bandaging.
- In the armed forces sector, it is used to make cartridge bags.
- Even insulating coils for telephones and racing car tires are made using silk
- One can obtain silkworm oil from the deceased chrysalis. This is used to make soaps and can also turn them into a concentrated cake that becomes food for poultry.
- Excrement (or) excrement of silkworms is a good source of vitamins namely K and E, an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, polysaccharides, and amino acids such as lysine.
- Using silkworm droppings, we can make acid-resistant plastic sheets.
- By mixing silkworm droppings with cow manure to use it for the production of gobar gas (or) biogas.
With so many uses of silk, sericulture offers a promising business opportunity.
- Sericulture must be done in closed premises; workers must work in poorly ventilated premises. This creates respiratory problems for these workers.
- Dead silkworms are handled by the workers with their bare hands which leads to various diseases and infections.
- When the cocoons are placed in hot water for loosening the silk fibers the workers must directly touch that hot water to look for cocoons which leads to a secondary infection.
- Employees need to work longer for up to 16 hours every day. This leads to severe back and leg pain.
- People who are not knowledgeable enough will find it difficult to deal with silkworms.
Common challenges faced during sericulture
- Inadequate equipment and technology for producing silkworm eggs
- Insufficient technicians in sericulture
- Inadequate tools and QC measures
- Lack of capital for investment
- No empowerment thus makes the worker feel demotivated
- Nonproper availability of technologies for silk processing
Policy initiatives for sericulture
Silk production is the functional area of the Ministry of Textiles. These are a few latest policy initiatives launched by them for promoting sericulture.
- Sericulture is incorporated as a related agricultural movement under RKVY. This allows sericulture producers to take advantage of the program for all sericulture activities to develop.
- The government has notified the law, rules, and regulations on CSB (amendment) from the nation to pass eminent standards in the production of silkworm seeds.
- The Forest Protection Act was amended to treat mulberry-free sericulture as a forestry activity that allows farmers to breed Vanya silkworms in the forest’s natural host plantation.
- Anti-dumping duty on Chinese raw silk: The Director-General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) in New Delhi recommended the imposition of anti-dumping duty on Chinese raw silk of Class 3A and lower in the form of a fixed duty of USD 1.85/kilogram on the landing cost.
- The CDP-MGMREGA convergence guide was finalized and published jointly by MORD and MOT which will help farmers obtain support from the MGNREGA program.