BACKGROUND OF THE INDUSTRY
In developing countries, e.g.India, agriculture and agro-based industries play a vital role in the improvement of rural economy. The limited availability of land, the limited cash returns, and agriculture being confined to one or two seasons in the year, have made villages to look for supporting rural industries, such as sericulture. Agriculture and sericulture are adopted simultaneously by the agriculturists in regions where the ecological conditions are favourable. In India, over three million people are employed in various fields of sericulture. It is a cottage industry and provides ample work for the womenfolk in the rural areas in rearing silk worms, while the male members work in the fields. Recently the enforcing of new ideas by research institutions both in mulberry cultivation and silk-worm-handling among sericulturists, the industry is now practised as a main profession and as a major cash crop, of the country.
Five varieties of silk worms are reared in India for producing this natural fibre. Bombyx mori, the silk worm, feeds on the leaves of Morus to produce the best quality of fibre among the different varieties of silk produced in the country. Antherea assama is confined to only Brahmaputra Valley of India in the world.It produces the famous mugasilk.Tasar silk is a product of Antherea mylitta, which feeds on Terminalia tomentosa grown in the thick jungles of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. The recent introduction of Antherea royeli and Antherea perniyi has enabled the country to produce the oak tasar silk, Phylosamia ricini, the eri silkworm, which feeds on Ricinus communis, is raised in Assam and Orissa commercially.
Of the total production of 2,969 tonnes of silk in India, as much as 2,445 tonnes is produced by the mulberry silkworms, Bombyx mori.
Mulberry silk is produced extensively in the states of Karnataka, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir. About 85 per cent of the country’s production is contributed by the Karnataka state by rearing multivoltine hybrids of silkworm and this activity enables the sericulturists to harvest five to six crops a year. Jammu and Kashmir, owing to its salubrious climate during autumn and spring, is producing silk by rearing univoltine silkworms. Other states, namely, Andhra pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh,Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, contribute roughly 1.8 percent to the total production of mulberry silk in India.The State wise silk production in the country is given in Table 1.
|State||Production (in tonnes)||Production (in tonnes)||Production (in tonnes)||Production (in tonnes)|
|5.Jammu and Kashmir||68||..||..||..|
Tasar silkworms are reared traditionally by the tribal people of Madhya Pradesh,Bihar, Orissa. These 3 states mainly contribute to the production of tasar silk in the country. The recent rearing of Antherea royeli & Antherea perniyi has enabled the country to produce the oak tasar silk in the sub-Himalayan belt & in Manipur.
Muga silk is grown exclusively in Assam & it is still considered to be a ceremonial dress by the local population.
Assam produces as much as 90% of eri silk in the country by rearing eri silkworms on castor leaves.