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ARTICLE: Silk Sector – Boosting The National Economy
Saturday, 26 January 2013 04:10

Silk Sector – Boosting The National Economy


Silk has been intermingled with the life and culture of the Indians. India has a rich and complex history in silkproduction and its silk trade dates back to  15th century. India has the unique distinction of being the only countryproducing all the five known commercial silks, namely, Mulberry, Tropical tasar, Oak tasar, Eri and Muga, of whichmuga with its golden yellow glitter is unique and prerogative of India. India’s  traditional and culture bound domestic market and an amazing diversity of silk garments that reflect geographic specificity have helped the country to achieve aleading position in silk industry.

Over the last six decades Indian Silk Industry has registered an impressive growth, both horizontally and vertically. Plans and schemes implemented by Central and State agencies and relentless efforts of thousands of dedicated persons in the fields of research and extension have helped in this context. For instance, the age old multivoltine hybrids have been replaced by multivoltine  x bivoltine and bivoltine hybrids. The sericulture industry has witnessed a quantum jump in raw silk productivity.

Sericulture in National Economy

Sericulture industry provides employment to approximately 7.56 million persons in rural and semi-urban areas inIndia. Of these, a sizeable number of workers belongs to the economically weaker sections of society, including women.Employment and income generation is primarily among the disadvantageous groups, i.e., women, SCs, STs and minorities and other marginalized groups are also substantially involved. Moreover, 60% of the Sericultural activities are undertaken by rural women. Around 7.56 million people are employed in various sericulture and silk industry related activities.

Silks of India

India is the second largest producer of silk in the world, a distant second to China, with 14.57% share of world production. India has produced around 23230 M.Tons which includes 18395 M.Tons of mulberry silk and 4835 M.Tons of vanya silks during the year 2011-12.  Mulberry silk is a dominant variety of sericulture practiced in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir.   India is the largest consumer of raw silk in the world. As the consumption of raw silk (around  28,733 MT) exceeds  the  production, the  additional requirement  ofaround 5,700 MT of silk  (particularly bivoltine mulberry silk of international quality) is imported mainly from China.

Eri, Tasar and Muga are other varieties of silk produced in India. These are collectively called as Vanya Silks(or wild silks) as these silks are mostly  products of the forests. Tasar silk is mainly produced in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa while in some parts of Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, tasar culture is practiced on small scale.  Oak Tasar is now being practiced in sub Himalayan States like Manipur, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya.  Eri silk ranks  first among non-mulberry silk production and found mostly in the hill tracts of the Northeastern states besides some parts of Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. Muga silk, also known as golden silk is exclusively found in Assam and is widely distributed in the Brahmaputra Valley.


During 2010-11, export earnings have reached to Rs 2863.76 and indicated a marginal decrease of 1 % compared to exports of Rs 2892.44 during 2009-10. However, during 2011- 12, provisional export earnings have reached to Rs. 2285.08 and indicated a decrease of 20.21% compared to 2010-11. Due to global recession, economic melt down, weakening of Indian Rupee against US $ (which makes import of raw silk expensive), higher production cost  (due toincrease in input costs) and tough competition from China have  affected the export earnings during last three years.

Research & Development

The Central Silk Board has a network of Research and Development Institutes with a network of Regional Seri culture Research Stations and Research Extension Centers throughout the Country to  provide necessary research and development support to the Industry. The technology developed by R&D Institutes of CSB have been popularized among the farmers to maximize yield and returns which in turn in bringing out vertical growth of the Industry. The raw silk productivity has increased from 87.84 kg/ha (2007-08) to 90.90 kg/ha (2011-12), Renditta ( Nos. of kg of cocoons required to produce 1 kg silk) has reduced from 8.13 (2007-08) to 7.66 (2011-12) due to R&D interventions.

Seed Support

CSB has the responsibility for supply of Basic Seed material of (both silkworm and its  host  food  plants) required for  further  multiplication  besides  undertaking production  of  quality  silkworm  seed  (F1)  to  supplement the  efforts  of  the concerned state seri culture departments as a quality leader to a limited extent. Under  this programme  technical  assistance and  field  level training are  also provided to the farmers by the Grainage extension centers. The CSB has a chain of Basic Seed Farms supplying basic seeds to the States. Its commercial seed production  centers  augment  efforts  of the States in supplying  commercial silk worm seed to farmers. CSB’s commercial seed production involvement is about 8 percent of the country’s current estimated absorption.

Sericulture Development Programmes Implemented by Central Silk Board

The Central Silk Board is currently implementing the Catalytic Development Programmes (CDP) under which a number of centrally sponsored Schemes are taken up for the development of sericulture with the involvement of the State governments both in traditional and non-traditional areas. The Govternment has incurred an expenditure of Rs.821.74 crores under Catalytic Development Programme during the XI Plan period. The programme covers areas such as food-plant cultivation, development of farm infrastructure, encouraging quality-linked purchase of cocoons and yarn, up gradation of reeling and processing technologies, enterprise development and support for extension and publicity.

CDP is presently implemented on a Project mode in the form of different packages mainly under 3 sectorsviz.  Seed, Cocoon and Post-cocoon sectors, supported by the Support Service Sector, in order to benefit all categories of beneficiaries like farmers, reelers & weavers and also to support achieving the targets & objectives of the XI Plan.

Cluster Development Programme

Central Silk Board in close co-ordination with States had jointly organized 45 pre- cocoon and 5 post-cocoon model sericulture clusters. Towards promoting development of sericulture in the cluster mode approach. The main objective being transfer of latest technology in a systematic manner and also through infrastructure up-gradation of farmers, improvement of skills and knowledge of farmers and  strict  discipline  in  sericulture  practices to  improve production, productivity and quality of cocoons.

During XI Plan period (till Mar-2012)CSB had released Rs.52.11 crores to 16 States under Catalytic Development Programme. On  implementation of the programme, the awareness and adoption of new technologies increased, significant improvement observed in knowledge/skill  of farmers, crop  stability,  production,  productivity and  quality  of  cocoons  and income level of farmers.

Silk Mark

The Ministry of Textiles came up with an initiative for the protection of the interests of the consumers and their stakeholders of the silk value- chain by bringing out “Silk Mark”  Scheme in June 2004. Silk Mark, the Assurance Label signifying that  product to which it is affixed is made of pure silk was launched by the Silk Mark Organisation of India (SMOI), promoted by the Central Silk Board  under Ministry of Textiles. Silk Mark labels can be affixed to primary, intermediate and finished  products silk including yarn, fabric sarees, made-ups, garments, carpets, etc.

The Silk Mark Scheme is aimed at protecting the interests of the users and connoisseurs of silk, and for the generic promotion of silk and also for building brand- equity of Indian Silk internationally. Since the launch of Silk Mark in June 2004, over 2150 members have joined the Organisation of whom, more than 1800 have become Authorised Users. Nearly 1.60 crores Silk Mark Labelled products have reached the market for the benefit of consumers. Apart from becoming familiar with the consumers, Silk Mark is gaining confidence   of the Silk Industry as well.  Due to the intensive activities carried out to promote “Silk Mark”, the Indian silk consumers are beginning to come under the “search good” factor, which in the coming days would catalyse to increase the demand for pure silk products. Awareness Programmes for consumers and trade across the country to promote the Silk Mark Scheme have also been conducted by Silk Mark Organization of India across the country.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 07:09