Using GIS technology to identify wastelands for sericulture

Central Silk Board locates potential areas in north Karnataka

January 24, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:46 am IST - MYSURU:

While the area under mulberry cultivation in sericulture-intensive districts in south Karnataka has come under stress, the Central Silk Board (CSB) has identified potential areas for expansion of sericulture in Bidar, Bagalkot and Belagavi districts in north Karnataka, besides Chitradurga, by using remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS) technology.

The identification of wastelands in north Karnataka and Chitradurga for expansion of sericulture assumes significance in the wake of Karnataka, which accounts for a third of raw silk production in the country, losing several thousands of hectares of land under mulberry cultivation over the last two decades. Silkworms reared in Karnataka feed on mulberry leaves.

Even though the area under mulberry cultivation had stabilised with the State adding about 8,000 to 8,500 hectares of land under mulberry cultivation every year since the last three years, CSB scientist C.J. Prabhakar said the board had provided the State government with a “focussed area” to promote sericulture.

Apart from considering wastelands suitable for cultivating mulberry, the board has also factored the climatic conditions needed for silkworm rearing as most of the north Karnataka districts record high temperatures during summer. “We have categorised the areas as marginally suitable, moderately suitable, and highly suitable. Though we could not identify highly suitable areas, we have identified moderately suitable and marginally suitable ones in all the four districts,” he said.

Most of the wastelands identified as suitable for sericulture promotion belong to private persons, Dr. Prabhakar said.

The shrinkage in the area under mulberry cultivation in the State, which coincided with the growth of the real estate sector, has been attributed to conversion of vast tracts of mulberry growing fields on the outskirts of Bengaluru and Mysuru into residential layouts.

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