Staff Reporter

Aim is to augment sericulture activities

KOCHI: The Kerala State Sericulture Co-operative Federation (Serifed) aims to bring 5,000 acres under sericulture by 2008-09 in addition to a programme to add another 2,000 acres in small and large sericulture farms by 2010 under the Serisree programme that was launched this year.

These programmes aim to augment the already thriving sericulture activities in some pockets in the State even as the Serifed initiatives received the full backing of the Central Silk Board (CSB).

H. Basker, Chief Executive Officer and Member Secretary of the CSB, assured Serifed that the board would extent all help to sericulture programmes in the State.

He was speaking at a day's workshop organised here on Thursday on promotion of bivoltine sericulture technology evolved under a development programme with assistance from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Around 50 farmers engaged in sericulture in different districts in Kerala participated in the workshop, attended by Japanese experts. The workshop aimed to bring together experts and farmers for sharing of expertise and experiences.

The Serisree programme is being implemented over the next three years with focus on five districts. Cluster approach is being adopted to integrate farmers who have small and large holdings. Eight hundred families are being targeted in each of the districts.

Usha Devi Balakrishnan, managing director of Serifed, said Kerala was expected to produce about 20 tonnes of silk this year. Sericulture was introduced in the State as late as 1983-84. Mulberry plantation was now spread over 2,299 acres with 4,449 farmers involved. This number was expected to go up substantially over the next couple of years as Serifed programmes gained momentum.

Sericulture had made significant headway in Palakkad, Malappuram, Kasaragod, Wayanad, Thrissur and Kollam districts. Idukki was a potential growth area.

"According to Serifed figures, cocoon production in the State is 92,083 kg with an average productivity of 40 kg per 100 DFLs (disease-free laying). One of the technology programmes being initiated by Serifed is the Soil to Silk programme in Kasaragod district.

The programme gives equal importance to pre and post cocoon phases. The Soil to Silk programme will be extended to other districts."

Ms. Balakrishnan said Serifed had sought the assistance of the Central Silk Board in setting up a training and research and development centre either in Kollam or Kasaragod.

She said the CSB was open to the suggestion and promised to help set up the centre.

Kozo Ito, Deputy Resident Representative, JICA India office; H. Yanagawa, chief advisor; R.G. Geetha Devi, Joint Director, Central Sericulture Research and Training Institute, Mysore; K. Kojima, expert in extension; T. Yamamoto, expert in training; T.H. Somasekhar, Director, Central Silk Technological Research Institute (CSTRI), Bangalore; R.K. Rajan, Joint Director, CSTRI, and Jayant Jayaswal, Joint Director, CSB, were among the speakers at the workshop.