Sericulture in India – The Silkworm Rearing Process Explained | UPSC Notes

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Sericulture in India – UPSC


Sericulture is the process of growing silkworms and making silk. It is a business based on farming. It includes growing plants that silkworms eat, raising silkworms so they can make cocoons, reeling and spinning cocoons so they can be used to make yarn, etc., so that they can be processed and woven.

• How does sericulture work?

Sericulture, which is also called “silk farming,” is the process of raising silkworms to make raw silk.

Bombyx mori is the silkworm species that is used the most.

Silk is so strong that it is called “BIOSTEEL” and “the queen of fabrics.”

Some Facts About Sericulture:

• One hectare of mulberry can employ about 12 men for a year. • Family members between the ages of 18 and 60 can work in different sericulture jobs, such as growing food plants (mulberry, castor, etc.), raising silkworms, making eggs, reeling silk, weaving, etc.

India makes more silk than any other country in the world except China.

India is the only country that makes all four types of silk, which are made by different kinds of silkworms: Mulberry silk (91.7%), Tasar silk (1.4%), Eri silk (6.4%), and Muga silk (.5%). Mulberry silk is made in large quantities in Karnataka, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir. In the same way, the tribes of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, and Jharkhand typically raise Tasar silk worms. Muga and Eri silk are only made in Assam. Mulberry is the plant that silkworms eat, so it can be used to make Mulberry silk.

Sericulture – Historical Perspective

Sericulture is thought to have begun in China, where B. Mori discovered how to make silk around 2700 BC. Even though historical evidence shows that silk was grown much earlier.

It was first grown in India in 140 AD, and then it spread to Europe, the Mediterranean, and other Asian countries.

In countries like China, Japan, India, Korea, Brazil, Russia, Italy, and France, sericulture has become one of the most important small businesses.

• China and India are the two biggest makers today. Together, they make more than 60% of the world’s supply every year.

Central Silk Board:

The Central Silk Board is a government agency that was set up by the Central Silk Board Act of 1948. It works with help from the Union Ministry of Textile.

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It is a state organisation in India that works to improve the silk industry as a whole.

• The Central Silk Board has been given the job of developing the silk industry as a whole. This includes all sericulture activities in the country, from growing food plants to making silk cocoons into silk yarn, as well as making rules about the import and export of silk.

The Central Silk Board’s main job is to do research and development. One of the Central Silk Board’s most important jobs is to do, help, and encourage scientific, technological, and economic study in the Silk Sector.

Sericulture – Stages of Production

• Eggs are laid by the silk moth.

When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat mulberry leaves. When the silkworms are about 25 days old, they are 10,000 times heavier than when they first started. They are now ready to make a silk cocoon. • The silkworm’s head has two glands that make silk, which comes out as a liquid through holes called spinnerets. • When the silk touches air, it hardens.

• The silkworm spins about a mile of thread and makes a cocoon around itself in about two or three days. However, because of quality rules, there isn’t much useable silk in each cocoon. Because of this, it takes 5500 silkworms to make 1 kg of silk.

• By brushing the cocoon to find the end of the silk thread on the outside, the silk is taken from the cocoons that have not been damaged. The silk filaments are then wound on a reel. About 1,000 yards of silk thread are in each cocoon. This kind of silk is called “raw silk.” Up to 48 separate silk strands make up one thread.

In India, the leaves of mulberry, mahua, sal, ber, and kusum trees are what silkworms eat.

• About 4.5 million hectares of land in India are used to grow mulberries. Most silk is made in places between 15 and 34 degrees north latitude. About 55 million people work in this field.

• 65% of India’s raw silk comes from the state of Karnataka. This is followed by Andhra Pradesh (170/0), West Bengal (8%), Tamil Nadu (5%), Assam (2.5%), and Jammu & Kashmir (1.2%). Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, Tripura, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh also produce a small amount of mulberry silk. • South India is the country’s top silk-producing region, and places like Kancheepuram, Dharmavaram, Arni, and others are famous for their silk weaving.

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Changes in the way raw silk is made

India is the only country that makes all five types of commercial silk: Mulberry, Tropical Tasar, Oak Tasar, Eri, and Muga. Muga is special and only found in India because of its golden yellow glitter.

Mulberry sericulture is mostly done in five states: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam (Bodoland), West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Tamil Nadu. The North East is the only place that makes four different kinds of silk: Mulberry, Oak Tasar, Muga, and Eri. Overall, 18% of all the silk made in India comes from the Northeast. India is the second biggest silk producer in the world. Mulberry silk makes up 71.8% (20,434 MT) of the total 28,472 MT of raw silk produced in 2016–17. The other three types are Tasar (9.9% (2,818 MT), Eri (17.8% (5,054 MT), and Muga, which makes up 0.6% (166 MT) of the total. • The demand for high-quality bivoltine silk in India is growing, both for domestic use and for export. The Ministry of Textiles of the Indian government and the Department of Sericulture in different states offer technical and financial help to increase the production of bivoltine silk.

Sericulture – Opportunities

• As a cottage business, sericulture is an important way to create jobs and help people get out of poverty.

• It’s one of the best ways to make money in the rural area.

• Low-cost technology made in the country is available.

• Regular and quick returns.

• Hand-woven silks are very famous and popular in the West.

• Strong domestic demand and the fact that silk clothes are worn on special events.

• Not enough is being made to meet local demand.

• Possibilities for setting up big production units and a well-run sector.

• It will be easier to use the by-products in a good way.

Recent steps that the government has taken to improve sericulture in India include: • Integrated Scheme for the Development of Silk Industry, which focuses on Feed, Seed, Breed, Post Cocoon Technology, and Capacity Building to improve sericulture in several states, including Tamil Nadu. The plan is made up of the following parts:

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• Research and development, training, technology transfer, and IT projects.

• Organisation of Seeds.

• Coordination and Market Development.

• A method for certifying quality and promoting the brand, as well as improving technology.

• Cold Storage facilities and Bivoltine grainages have been improved so that Bivoltine silkworm seed of good quality can be made.

• The Silkworm Seed Act is being put into place to improve the output and quality of silk by putting quality standards on how silkworm seeds are made.

• The Central Silk Board has made new technology packages, better farm machines, automatic reeling units made in India, and Vanya silk reeling and spinning units to make making Vanya silk easier and to improve its quality and output.

• The Forest Conservation Act has been changed so that non-mulberry sericulture is now considered a forest-based activity. This means that farmers can now raise Vanya silkworms in natural host plantations in the woods.

• The Cocoon sector, which includes the weaving sector, has been getting expert help from the Indian government through the Central Sericulture Training Institute of the Central Silk Board (CSB).

• Bringing all four types of silk to weavers who use handlooms. • Bringing spun silk and yarn to weavers who make Ikkats.

• Traditional Patola fabrics have been turned into clothes as part of an extension project run by the Ministry of Textiles to improve the silk infrastructure in the country.