The Indian Silk Industry

Categories: Deforestation

Sericulture, the technique of rearing silkworms (Bombyx Mori or silk moth) for manufacturing of silk is an important agro-based activity of primary sector which is practised in a variety of agro-climatic zones such as hilly & rugged terrains, forest-based terrains etc. But thanks to a lot of scientific progress and technological improvements up to the current era, this technique can now be practised on a wide regional scale and all of this has been possible through investment of time and extensive profit earned through this trade through times immemorial; which is comparatively larger than profit earned through growth of other crops.

Though the enterprise being small in scale; provides a wave of opportunities for development of targeted groups, like small and marginal farmers for instance. Apart from that several priorities for expansion and improvement is addressed in a rapid and simultaneous way like provision of:

  1. Employment plus revenue production in rural sectors.
  2. High participation of specific social groups targeted for development plus marginal farmers and low income sections of society.

  3. Good growth prospects.
  4. Revenue generation through exports.
  5. Good comparative benefits.
  6. Positive downriver employment impact of raw silk manufacturing on industrial viz. secondary sector of economy.

Hence all of these provisions make this sector of production a very magnetic one, which is suitable for development and expansion in future.
Now if we discuss how silk is manufactured in sericulture industry; we can clearly answer that it happens in 5 stages:

  1. Silkworm seed production.
  2. Rearing of silkworm.
  3. Reeling of silk
  4. Weaving of silk.

Now coming down to variety of silk, a large range can be estimated upon careful study and research each endowed with unique properties of its own.

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One such variant is Tassar silk whose properties are as follows:

  1. Copper Brownish in colour
  2. Mainly used for furnishing and interiors
  3. Produced by Tussah silkworm which grows on Asan and Arjun trees
  4. In India it is produced in Odisha Jharkhand West Bengal Maharashtra Chhattisgarh Andhra Pradesh
  5. Main subsidiary of tribal communities in tribal areas.

Now in matter of sericulture variants there are 2 of them; mulberry sericulture and non mulberry sericulture. But there are differences between these 2 variants as the latter practise have advantages over the former, in respect to its properties like:

  • Has positive calibre for forestry as a supplementary practise.
  • Helps reduce deforestation.
  • Promotes social forestry via. Plantation of mulberry host plant with non mulberry host plants in an arranged order.
  • Usage of large number of species in production of non mulberry silk out of which 80 such species are commercially employed in Asia and Africa by tribal communities.

“Antheraeamylitta D, a purely local Asiatic genus confined to Indo Australian, Palaearctic region extending towards China and Japan” is one of the most important variant of Tassar silk industry.

The Indian Silk Industry

In matters of silk production in the world India is categorised as a sunrising industry with its position being second, just behind the global leader and first rank holder China. Despite its low production volume Indian silk industries have certain traits which make it one of the largest silk producers in tropical belt like presence of a large domestic market with absorption rate of 90% of its domestic production and it has a long tradition which is closely interwoven with the social and cultural ethos of the nation. Tassar, Eri, Muga, Mulberry and Kosa silk are 5 different commercial variants of silk India produces.
Indian silk industry; being one of the oldest and crucially integral industries in India plays a very important role in Indian textile industry and export in following ways;

  1. Features a distinct position in India.
  2. In matter of global production of raw silk India’s stake is almost 15.56% which is relatively more than 30 silk producing nations in the globe.
  3. Grants employment to 8.25 million people across rural and semi-urban sectors of the nation.
  4. The indigenous production of silk, considering all varieties is nearly 35,000 MT.
  5. Silk export from India amounted upto 2031.88 crores in the year 2018-2019.

Tassar culture provides livelihood to a large population of tribal and weaker section of the society nearly 1.25 lakhs tribal families in different states, especially in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Bihar in following ways:

  1. Harbours high potential for gainful rural employment.
  2. Remunerative revenue for tribal population.
  3. It’s a profitable traditional sideline occupation that needs low investment and has potential for high returns.
  4. Linking of nonfarm based employment to Tassar culture on a mass scale.
  5. Have multi-tier earning calibre for the support of rural enterprises/entrepreneurs, especially within the zone/sector of egg production, commercial production of cocoon, yarn and fabric production and diversified products at the level of cocoon, yarn, fabric and wastes.

Now discussing about the chief source of production of Tassar silk one can easily conclude through study and observation that it is produced from the Indian Tassar silk worm called Tassar Drury which is polyphagus in nature and can only be reared in natural forest plantation supporting trees like Sal (Shorearobusta) Arjun, Tometossas (genus-Terminalia) There are 44 eco races of Tassar silkworm Antheraeamylitta, of which 10 are found in Jharkhand Among these, nine eco races viz,

  • Daba, Laria, Sarihan (Jharkhand),
  • Modal Sukinda Nalia (Orissa)
  • Bhandara (Maharashtra),
  • Rally (Chhattisgarh)
  • Andhra local (Andhra Pradesh)

These are considered utterly important and crucial from the commercial point of view. Such eco-types though differ sharply in their characteristics, offer rich genetic results in terms of their qualitative and quantitative economic characters and hence constitute domesticated important genetic resources in Tassar culture. The tribals at present are conducting rearing of semi Tassar races like Daba and Sukinda on Asan and Arjun plantation in Bihar.\n .\n\nFig 1: Silk producing states of India:

State Scenario:

Tasar culture is a way of life for the tribal and forest dwellers particularly Central and Eastern India Tasar culture is a backbone for tribal development and government of India through Central Silk Board and different state government have initiated several developmental and welfare measures for the tribal welfare through it.
Tasar is copperish color, coarse silk mainly used for furnishing and interiors. Tasar culture is concentrated mainly in the areas of the state such as Bhagalpur, Gaya, Banka, Raxaul, Nawada, Bhabhua, Rohtas, Nawada, Jamui, Banka and Munger. An estimated 65000 families are engaged in Tasar silk industry. Presently 95 % tasar cocoon producing areas are with Jharkhand state which covers 90% tribal population and better forest position and climatic condition. There are two Tasar Pilot project centers and 12 Tasar seed supply sub stations in Bihar
Presently Bihar has major avenue to exhilarate the handloom sector so that cocoon and raw silk produced by neighboring state Jharkhand will be best utilized by Weavers in the state. In the state 22,600 handlooms and 45,500 weavers are working directly or indirectly in reeling, spinning and weaving of silk related fabrics in different clusters. Bhagalpur is one of the prominent cluster for this avocation.
SGSY Project has been launched in Banka and Jamui in Bihar for development of Tasar and Eri culture. It has shown positive and significant achievement in comparison to Jhrkhand state during 2003-04 and 2004-05. There are several other schemes of NGO: “PRADAN,” MORD, DOS are working in the state for the development of silk industry and aims to provide employment to the people who are landless or marginal farmers and young educated persons.

Development of silk in country

CSB (Central silk board) one of the earliest commodity boards of the country, is a statutory body under the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India dedicated to the cause and development of the Indian sericulture and silk industry. The mandated activities of CSB include leadership role in commercial silkworm seed production, standardizing and instilling quality parameters in the various production processes and advising the Government on all matters concerning sericulture and silk industry.
CSB has established an efficient network of research institutes and extension units all over the country, to carry out its mandated activities and to cater to the diverse and complex research needs of the sector Central Silk Board has systematic programme of popularization of new technologies through organized extension and media publicity programmes It has produced a sense of ueful publications and videos on seri-technologies for the benefit of the stakeholders. It also contacting scenes of Krishi Melas, Group Discussions, Enlightenment Programmes, Field Days Farmers Meets, Audio-Visual Programmes and Technology Demonstration etc.., effective reach of the technologies to the field.
The Government of India through Central Silk Board is also implementing Catalytic Development Programme (CDP) in coordination with the Govt. of Bihar, to provide support for development of host plantation, construction of Rearing houses/CRCs/Cocoon storage houses, assistance to Tasar Seed production, support for state Department for strengthening of Eri Farm-cum-Grainages, rearing appliances, establishment of improved cottage basin reeling units, support for hot air driers etc. Under Quality Certification System (QCS) scheme, the Silk Mark Organisation of India (SMOI) organises structured and well planned Silk Mark Expos in various cities across the country regularly and provides a platform to weavers, traders and exporters to showcase and sell their silk products including sarees. Weavers and Exporters from Bhagalpur region also participate in these expos in a big way and get benefited.
Central Silk Board has long term vision of making India the global silk leader and making concerted efforts to improve the improve the quality and productivity of silk produced. It has prospective plans for evolution of new technologies and silkworm genetic material that would support this ambitious vision.

Motivation for the study

Sericulture development in the country has gone through considerable changes in recent years and the sector is considered as an important one in national economy, since it provides substantial employment opportunities for the rural areas. Even though many of the problems are existing in the silk industry they are, the prevailing price instability in the cocoon and raw silk markets, lack of quality of silk cocoon, high degree of dependency on import of raw silk for running the domestic processing units is there throughout the year, in order to meet our domestic and international markets. Hence, the terms of trade for silks are not healthy and favourable in India. The import of raw silk in India has increased and the prices of cocoon and raw silk have come down resulting in uprooting of mulberry gardens. In order to promote the production and export of silk, there is need to reorient the policy initiatives for production, export, tax structures and subsidies; a comprehensive study on the silk has become imperative. Therefore, the study is undertaken with the following specific objectives.
On the above backdrop the present study entitled "Technology used by farmers in tasar silk production and marketing strategy in Bhagalpur district of Bihar is undertaken along with the following specific objectives.

  • To assess the level of technology adoption promoted by CSB
  • To study the marketing strategies adopted by farmers
  • To study the problems of farmers in production and marketing of cocoons

 Presentation of the study

The entire study has been divided into six chapter.
Initial chapter encompasses the introduction, the importance of the silk industry and the objectives of the study. Chapter II that follows, deals with review of relevant literature bearing on the objectives of the present study outlined in chapter I. Chapter III describes the source of the data and the statistical tools and techniques from which the data has been analyzed and interpreted. Next the chapter IV devoted to the presentation of the results and discussions of the results of the study. Chapter V discusses about summary and conclusion of the study followed by chapter VI which gives suggestions. In the last chapter of the study it gives it gives the list of the literature referred for the study.

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The Indian Silk Industry. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from

The Indian Silk Industry
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