The non-mulberry silk sector which comprises of three types - Tasar, muga and Eri - is grown and reared in states like Jharkand, Chattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal (Tasar) North-Eastern states for Muga and Eri. Unlike the mulberry silk, non-mulberry silk has not got a wide spread recognition even in the Indian markets. India production of non-mulberry silk is around 1100 tonne of Eri, 240 tonne of Tasar and 100 tonne of Muga in 2001, constituting just around seven to eight per cent of the total silk production of the country. However, with the development activities going on in the sector, CSB is expecting a 10 per cent growth in the non-mulberry silk production this year.
Speaking to The Financial Express, Central Silk Board CEO and member secretary P Joy Oommen said, “A UNDP project is on for the development of non-mulberry silk and for supporting the silk rearers who are majorly women and tribals.” An investment of around Rs 44 crore has been made in this regard by the UNDP, Central Silk Board and the state government bodies, he said. Other than this, there are rural development projects too with the support of NGOs in the respective states for the promotion of non-mulberry silk rearing. UNDP is looking at taking up more projects in this sector, he added.
In the meanwhile, CSB through its various research bodies is revving up the technology upgradation activities for the non mulberry silk sector. Currently, the Central Silk Technology Research Institute (CSTRI) is developing machines to make the reeling of Tasar and Muga better. Around 2400 machines developed by CSTRI with small motors have been dispatched to different areas where women is involved in the work. For Eri, CSTRI has developed a spinning wheel with motor and pedal the use of which could result in the production of stronger and finer yarn leading to better marketability of the product.
CSB is also in talks with the forest department in the non-mulberry silk growing states for systematic plantation of host trees for Muga and Tasar for tribals. There are also plans to utilise wastelands especially for growing the host plants. For Eri, which could be blended with many other fabrics including wool, a project has been awarded to NID for product design and development Mr Oommen said. Eri has evinced a lot of interest in and outside the country of late.