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Sericulture- An important allied sector of agriculture

India is primarily an agricultural country. The farming sector provides employment to nearly 2/3rd of the work force. The largest industries of the country like sugar, jute, textiles, food processing, etc. are dependent on agriculture for their raw materials.

Beside this animal husbandry, dairy, fishery, horticulture and sericulture are the allied sectors of agriculture. Now we will discuss sericulture briefly.

From ancient time, silk has become an inseparable part of Indian culture and tradition. No ritual is complete without silk as a wear. Sericulture and silk textile industry is one of the major agro-best cottage industry which is also an agro-best labour intensive industry.

Major activities involve in a sericulture industry are:

1. Cultivation of mulberry plants.
2. Rearing of silk worms for the production of raw silk
3. Reeling the cocoons for unwinding the silk filament
4. Other post cocoon processes such as twisting, dyeing, weaving, printing and finishing

Sericulture is one of the most labour intensive sector, combining activities of both agriculture and industry .So it is immensely helpful in developing rural economy.

India ranked second major raw silk r in the world .Silk is a high value but low volume product accounting for only 0.2% of worlds total textile production. It churns out value added products of economic importance.

Types of silk:

There are five major types of silk of commercial importance obtained from different species of silk worms. India has the unique distinction of producing all these varieties of silk. The five vanities of silk may be divided into two broad categories:

Mulberry Silk
It comes from the silk worm Bombyx mori L. which solely feeds on the leaves of the mulberry plant. The bulk of the commercial silk d in the world comes from this variety. In India, the major mulberry silk producing states are:
2.Andhra Pradesh
3.West Bengal
4.Tamil Nadu
5.Jammu and Kashmir
Which together accounts for 92% of country’s total mulberry raw silk production.

Vanya Silk or Non Mulberry Silk
1. Temparate Tasar Silk: It is produced by the silk worm ,Antheraea mylitta which mainly thrive on the leaves of Asan and Arjun.Tasar is a copperish color,coarse silk mainly used
for furnishing and interior decorations. In India, the major Tasar silk producing states are Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

2. Tropical Tasar Silk or Oak Tasar Silk: It is a finer variety of tasar produced by the silk worm Antheraea Proyeli J. which feeds on plants of oak. In India, it is mainly found in the sub Himalayan belt of India covering the state of Manipur, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir.

3. Muga Silk: It is a golden yellow silk obtained from semi-domesticated multi voltine silk worm, Antheraea Assamenses. This silk worms feed on the aromatic leaves of Son and Soalu plants. Muga silk is the pride of Assam and is an integral part of the tradition and culture of the state. India holds the monopoly in producing Muga silk. It is the only one cash crop in agriculture sector that gives return within 30 days.

4.Eri Silk (Endy or Errandi): It is the product of a domesticated silk worm, Philosamia Ricini that feeds mainly on castor leaves. It is a multi voltine silk worm from open ended cocoons unlike other varieties of silk. In India, this culture is practiced mainly in the North eastern states including Assam .It is also found in Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. Eri culture is a house-hold activity practiced mainly for pupae, a delicacy for tribal communities. The Eri silk is used indigenously for preparation of chadar (wraps) for own use of these tribal communities.

Geographically, Asia is the main production hub of silk in the world and covering over 95% of the total global output. But bulk of it is produced in China, India, Japan, Korea and Brazil. India contributes about 18% to the total world raw silk production.

Seri culture emerged as an important economic activity, becoming increasingly popular in several parts of the country, because of its short gestation period, quick recycling of resources. It suits very well to all types of farmers exceptionally marginal and small land holders as it offers rich opportunities for enhancement of income and creates own family employment down the year .The Indian silk goods have high export potential because of its distinctness of low production cost. During 2007-2008 (until September 2007), the total silk exports were rupees 1376.91 crore. It is estimated that up to March 2008, the total silk export is likely to reach Rs .3,500.00 crores. It is a high income generating industry which is regarded as an important tool for economic development of the country.

Written by:
Ratnadipa Dasgupta Sarkar

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