A gradual increase in the quantum of indigenously produced silk yarn over the last five years has brought about a corresponding decline in the country’s dependence on imported silk yarn, mostly from China.
To meet its raw silk requirements, India had imported almost 8,400 metric tonnes (MT) of silk yarn against 18,370 MT of indigenously produced silk during 2008-09. Five years later in 2012-13, the quantum of imported silk yarn had declined substantially to less than 5,000 MT while indigenously produced silk had gone up to 23,679 MT.
Central Silk Board (CSB) officials, who shared the data relating to increased silk production in the country, said the demand for raw silk in the country, however, had gone up by around 2,000 MT during the five year period from 28,000 MT in 2008-09 to 30,000 MT.
Even though the area under mulberry cultivation in the country has gone up only marginally from 1.78 hectares to around 1.86 hectares during the five year period, CSB officials attributed the increased output of raw silk to use of better technology and Research and Development (R and D) intervention.
Compared to Tenth Plan period, silk production in India had grown by a whopping 25 per cent during the Eleventh Plan period, which ended in 2011-12, said CSB officials hoping that India will achieve complete self-sufficiency in quality raw silk production by 2020.
Karnataka Silk Marketing Board’s (KSMB) Assistant Manager Purushotam Naik said the devaluing of the Indian rupee over the last one year also had an impact on the import of raw silk. “With the quality of Indian silk improving and the devalued Indian rupee making imported silk costlier, the demand for imported silk has begun to slide. In the coming years, the demand for imported silk could dip further”, he said.
Meanwhile, President of Bharatiya Reshme Udyog P Chagganmal, who represents the manufacturing sector, said the price of imported silk yarn went up from a little over Rs 3,000 per kg to around Rs 4,400 over the last one year due to the strengthening of the dollar against the rupee. “Now, Indian silk yarn is available for around Rs 2,700 to Rs 3,500 per kg, depending on its quality”, he said.
A senior official of the CSB said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) of Government of India has approved an outlay of Rs 1,264 crore for development of sericulture and silk industry in the country during the 12 Plan period, which began in 2012-13. The focus will be on improving productivity and quality through R&D intervention, low cost technology packages, reduction of drudgery, mechanization to reduce labour dependency.