Sericulture- An Art and Science of Silk Production

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In developing countries like Pakistan reduction of rural poverty is a paramount goal. According


to World Bank estimate more than 70% poor people live in rural areas. Various strategies have


been pursued to address this concern and create new employment opportunities. The practice of


sericulture is one of the important agro- based pursuits with which rural population is associated


from ancient times.


Sericulture industry provides direct and indirect employment to various stakeholders and aids in augmenting their income. Sericulture sector provides sufficient returns


to the farmers in less possible time and has an ample employment generating potential. In rural


areas it is necessary to focus on a broader spectrum of the rural economy through improved ways


and means. Thus the establishment of rural based industries like sericulture, in particular, can be


very effective tool for providing support to landless farmers and also the rural women who can


also make their earnings through its practice.


Sericulture is both an art and science of raising silkworms for silk production. It is an agro-based


industry which is the cultivation of silk through rearing of silkworm for production of raw silk


and includes the operations of silk fiber production. It involves the raising of food plants for


silkworm, rearing of silkworm, reeling and spinning of cocoon for production of yarn and fabric.


The history of silk dates back to earlier civilizations. The Chinese has used silk since the 27th


century B.C. Silk as a weavable fiber was first discovered by the Chinese empress Xi Ling Shi


during 2,640 B.C. and its culture and weaving was a guarded secret for more than 2,500 years by


the Chinese. Silk was a profitable trade commodity in China. Even today, silk reigns supreme as


an object of desire and fabric of high fashion. Being a rural based industry, the production and


weaving of silk are largely carried out by relatively poor sections of the society and this aspect of


sericulture has made it popular and sustainable in many countries.


The World Raw Silk production is about 126995 MT (2009) mainly from two countries, China


and India. China leads the world with silk production of 104000 MT or 81.89% of the produce


while Indias raw silk production is 19690 MT. Pakistan share in world trade export of silk is


only 0.03% while in import 2.77%. There is a big gap between import and export of Pakistans


silk. We can not only save a lot of capital but also earn a lot by improving Sericulture industry in


Pakistan.


Top five Importer andamp; Exporter of Silk and Pakistan


Country Export In US $ Country Import In US $


China 1,706,042,559 China, Hong Kong 118,744,970


Germany 97,553,597 USA 170,969,566


India 163,511,111 India 325,773,845


Italy 389,275,471 Italy 396,912,050


Japan 112,986,528 Japan 179,738,927


Pakistan 686,077 Pakistan 33,949,018


Pakistans Share In


W/ trade


0.03% Pakistans Share In


W/ trade


2.77%


Total 2,470,055,343 Total 1,226,088,376


Main occupation of Pakistan populations is agriculture. And silk industry is based on agricultural


output and it is a labor intensive avocation. Silk industry can provide employment for the rural


masses ensuring economic returns at the individual family level. Silk is a high valued textile. It is


suitable for rural people especially women due to following reasons:


o Sericulture needs less specialized skill and hence almost all the men and women can be


linked to this industry.


o It involves usually indoor activities so suited for women. Rural women can do it near


their houses and while doing their daily chores as rearing needs feeding etc at intermittent


gaps.


o Sericulture is less labor intensive because less physical force is required.


o It requires Minimum investment which can be arranged easily by the poor.


o Farmers can get good income in very short period of 40-45 days.


o It is eco-friendly occupation because it involves the cultivation of Mulberry.


Mulberry silkworms, Eri silkworms, Tasar silkworms and Muga Silkworms are some species of


silkworms. Mulberry contribute 95% of worlds silk production. In Pakistan Mulberry silk


production is common. The practice adopted by people for production of mulberry silk is given


as:


Mulberry Cultivation: Silkworms feed on mulberry leaves. So cultivation of mulberry trees is


necessary for silk production, which provides a regular supply of leaves to the silkworms. There


are over 20 species of mulberry, of which four are common: Morus alba, M. indica, M. serrata


and M latifolia. Mulberry is propagated either by seeds, root- grafts or stem cuttings, the last one


being most common. Cuttings, 22-23 cm long with 3-4 buds each and pencil thick, are obtained


from mature stem. These are planted directly in the field or first in nurseries to be transplanted


later. After the plants have grown, pruning is carried out and leaves are collected after 10 weeks


of pruning. Seeds are obtained from grainages, which are the centers for production of disease


free seeds of pure and hybrid races in large quantities. Bombyx mori is domesticated insect which


feed exclusively on the leaves of Mulberry tree to produce raw silk in the form of cocoon.


Rearing: The silkworms are actually larvae of the silkmoth. They are reared in specially made


trays in rooms with controlled temperature and humidity (22°C and 65% RH) and regularly fed


mulberry leaves. Entire branch with leaves is fed to Larvae. Periodic feeding and cleaning is very


necessary. At a certain stage they convert themselves into pupa. The pupa is covered within a


thick, oval, white or yellow silken case called cocoon. These cocoons are made from a single


filament of material secreted by the pupa and wrapped around itself for protection. These


filaments upon hardening constitute silk. On an average, 1 acre of plantation would yield 240 kg


of cocoons in a year, starting from 100 DFLs (Disease Free Layings i.e Eggs). Farmers can


harvest the cocoons 4 to 8 times in a year, depending upon whether it is dryland or irrigated


mulberry,


Reeling: The removal of silk yarn from the cocoons is called reeling. The cocoons are cooked


first in hot water at 95-97 o C for 10-15 minutes to soften the adhesion of silk threads among


themselves and unwinding the filaments. Usually 8-10 cocoons are reeled together. There are


three methods for reeling: the charkha, the slightly more advanced cottage basin and the costly


automatic machines.


Twisting: Prior to weaving, the raw silk is boiled in water to remove remaining gum, dyed and


bleached, and then woven.


Weaving: Clothes are created by the weaving of thread. Thread is formed by the raw silk and


then it is woven into garments by the handloom or power loom.


Products of silk filament include Silk Yarn, silk cloth, Made-ups, Readymade Garments, Silk


Carpets and Silk Wastes.


Conclusion:


Sericulture is suitable to many parts of Punjab and Azad Kashmir. Environment is favorable for


mulberry cultivation. So sericulture can be adopted as a profession by the farmers. To solve the


employment problems and poverty, boosting up of sericulture industry is very necessary. Policy


makers must formulate and adopt policies for silk industry to solve unemployment problem and


boost up export of silk products, which improve silk industry in Pakistan and will reduce burden


on budget on the import of silk.


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Published in: Volume 07 Issue 28

Short Link: http://www.technologytimes.pk/?p=15929