Sericulture is the process of production of raw silk. It involves both the cultivation of silkworms from the egg stage through to the completion of the cocoon and the planting and maintenance of the mulberry trees on which the silkworms feed.
The benefits of sericulture in India:
- High employment potential: >600,000 people employed in sericulture activities.
- Generates employment throughout the year, with an estimated 11 person days’ employment for each 1 kg of raw silk production.
- Employment on both on and off-farm activities
- Maintains and strengthens rural economies:>80% of the gross value of silk fabrics returns to the local area of production (to cocoon growers, reelers, twisters and weavers)
- Mulberry is a perennial crop. It contributes to soil conservation and provides green cover
- Waste from silkworm rearing is recyclable for agricultural use
- Dried mulberry twigs and branches can be used as fuel
- Mulberry can be cultivated in areas of often unused land, e.g. hill slopes, watersheds.
- The Loom Tree Foundation is working with SEWA Katihar to set up a sericulture project in 10 acres of land in Kathihar, Bihar with help from the Silk Board of Bihar. The plantation is set to start from March 2016.
Provides employment for weaker sectors of society:
- 60% of those employed in sericulture are women Low InvestmentThe investment needed to start sericulture activities is low and silkworm rearing can start within 6 months of mulberry planting
- Sericulture can be practised with very small land holdings; 1 acre dedicated to sericulture can support a family of 3, without the need to hire labour