Introduction of quality races to bring down imports of raw silk

Updated: Jan 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
The imports of quality raw silk would be minimised in the next two to three years with the introduction of 2A and 3A quality races (Byvoltine cocoons) by the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka governments, which are the major producers of mulberry in India.

Both the governments are also involved in developing 15 more new races, which would see India not only becoming self-sustainable but also save huge foreign exchange outgo, according to Sericulture Board additional director B Venkateswarlu.

The Andhra Pradesh Research and Development Centre in Hindupur and Mysore Research Cetnre in Karnataka were engaged in developing close to 20 new races. Out of these, five have been introduced recently, which are found to be more successful with the farmers, Mr Venkateswarlu told The Financial Express.

The recently introduced races including Swarnandhra, Hemavathi, Kalpatharu, CSR (equal to 2A and 3A graded silks of China) would not only improve the per acreage yields but also would bring in higher revenues to the farmers.

Currently, India produces 15,000 tonnes of quality raw silk as against the demand of 22,000 tonnes, out of the 2,15,921 hectares of mulberry cultivation. The balance 7,000 tonnes of raw silk are being imported from countries like China and Korea, he said.

The new varieties, coupled with the introduction of 15 more new races in the near future, would bring down imports and enable India to become self-sustainable in raw silk production.

As the production of quality raw silk increases over the next two to three years, India could able to save huge forex outgo. Presently, the imported raw silk is priced Rs 1,200 per kg, Mr Venkateswarlu pointed out. The new races also would counter heavy smuggling of ungraded silk from China across the borders of Tibet, Nepal, which adversely affect the industry as a whole, he explained. The Central Silk Board, which is the brain behind the recent initiatives of AP and Karnataka, has certified the races after the samples had been tested by farmers for higher standards, quality, prevention of diseases, climatic condition adaptability, he said.

The new races, which have been tested earlier, have seen the yield increase sharply to 60 kg an acre as against 30 to 45 kgs earlier, he said. The farmers were also able to realise an income of Rs 1 lakh an acre as against Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 earlier, he said. Meanwhile, the mulberry production in Andhra Pradesh has gone up sharply over the past few years, thanks to the state government’s initiative to add 10,000 acres of land every year.