“Though India ranks second in global silk production and leads in silk consumption, the silk production in the country does not meet the country's requirement,” says Dr. S. M. H. Qadri, Director, Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute (CSR&TI), Central Silk Board, Mysore.

“Converting traditional farming system or existing popular conventional practices to advanced technologies is not an easy task though the need of the hour lays emphasis on competing in terms of globalized marketing,” he says.

Switch over

“Indian silk industry needs to switch over to bivoltine hybrid silkworm rearing for production of superior quality silk and higher returns to farmers, as the quality of silk produced by indigenous breeds and cross breeds (CB) is low and cannot compete in the international market,” he adds.

The CSR & TI Mysore, evolved a number of silkworm hybrid breeds capable of higher yields and international quality silk during the last decade enabling India to meet the global competition and to sustain the sericulture industry, according to him.

Indian farmers mainly rear cross breeds (CB) that are multivoltine in nature, (produce silk throughout the year) whereas the bivoltine hybrids (BV) completes only two generations per year and yet yield silk more superior than multivoltines.

“Initially the bivoltine silkworm rearing could be done only during winter season under tropical conditions. Now scientists are evolving several silkworm breeds suitable for rearing under all climatic conditions,” he explains.

“Several projects funded by the World Bank assisted National Sericultural Project and 'Promotion and Popularizing Practical Bivoltine Sericulture Technology' (PPPBST) Project strengthened bivoltine production,” adds Dr. Qadri.

Leading state

“Today we can say proudly say that among the States Tamil Nadu leads in bivoltine hybrid silk production in the country. Though PPPBST demonstrates success of bivoltine cocoon production among limited number of farmers in Gobichetipalayam, Erode district, it has still to make a big impact among many sericulture farmers,” he says.

The regional research station at Salem and the Directorate of Sericulture (DOS) are taking steps to popularize bivoltine sericulture among farmers and the result today its rearing increased from 0.1 per cent to 22 per cent.

Higher literacy of the farmers, usage of sericulture industry as self employment tool, large scale operation, easy acceptance, and adoption of advanced technologies are additional strengths for promoting the rearing in Tamil Nadu, he explains.

Good example

Mr. M.S. Vasudeva Ramkumar a sericulture farmer in Manupatty village, Udumalpet, says, that he hesitated to rear bivoltine silkworm hybrids mainly due to their susceptibility to diseases and need for quality mulberry leaf.

“Thanks to the scientists, who provided disease and temperature tolerant silkworm hybrids and rearing package to farmers like us, we are able to get a good price for bivoltine cocoons and earn an additional income of about Rs. 6,000 to 10,000 per acre,” he says.

CSR, Mysore is striving to promote bivoltine sericulture in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra through cluster promotion programmes augmented by recently launched video conferencing system for sericulture farmers towards effective extension support.

Need for better scope

The industry needs better scope for further development that can offer scope for a lot of self employment opportunity in different sectors particularly to rural educated youths, feels Dr. Qadri.

For more details contact The Director, Central Sericultural Research & Training Institute, Central Silk Board, Mysore, Karnataka email: director@csrtimys.res.in, phone 08212362757 and Central Silk Board, Salem, Tamil Nadu,phone: 0427- 2295374 & 2296374.