Khursheed Ahmad Dar | Parvaiz Ahmed Reshi
Jammu and Kashmir is famous for producing high quality bivoltine silk of international grade. From times immemorial Sericulture industry has been one of the main pillars of rural economy in Kashmir valley, engaging people in a long chain of interdependent, specialised operations which provide a means of livelihood to a large section of the population, i.e., silkworm seed producers, farmers-cum-rearers, reelers, twisters, weavers, spinners of silk waste, traders, etc. Presently more than 30000 families are associated with this industry in Jammu and Kashmir. Annually about 900 MT of cocoon is produced in the region generating an income of about ₹ 19 Crore and annual raw silk production is 138 MT. However, there is still a huge gap between actual production and the target due to which people find it very hard to get attracted towards the profession of Sericulture. In order to fulfil this gap farmers need to transform themselves from mere producer-seller in the domestic market to producer cum seller in a wider market, to realise good returns on their investments, risks and efforts. Although from early 90s the industry is facing problems due to political unrest, foreign competition, squeezing of agricultural land, white collar jobs, unregulated marketing etc., still the industry is thriving. However, the present global scenario clearly indicates enormous entrepreneurship opportunities in the field of Sericulture especially for unemployed rural youth/women who are willing to set up their own enterprises for sustained livelihood and employment generation.
Sericulture occupies a place of pride in the rural economy by being only cash crop that guarantees attractive returns in a short period of time. It has an important place in the economy of Jammu and Kashmir and more than 30000 families are drawing their sustenance through this avocation. The industry used to be the main source of revenue for J&K during the reign of Maharaja and was also the main avocation for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In the year 1940, sericulture was at its full bloom and the cocoon production in Jammu and Kashmir touched 16 lakh kg and provided substantial revenue for the state. However, with the passage of time this industry started indicating signs of decline and the cocoon production during the year 2019-20 has been recorded to the tune of 9 lakh Kgs only. Although variety of reasons including poor quality of leaf coupled with its insufficient availability are responsible for this dismal scenario, nevertheless the chief contributing factor has been identified as the voluminous silkworm mortality (30-40% crop loss) suffered by the farmers during rearing period which in turn is the outcome of Insufficient and Inadequate Rearing Space available with the farmers. Keeping all this in view, study entitled:“Sericulture- An Income Augmenting & Employment Generating Venture for Tribal farmers of north Kashmir” was undertaken through NABARD Funded Project to address the problem of inadequate rearing accommodation of farmers by way of fabricating low cost rearing huts near the farmer’s dwellings and managing the silkworm rearing on scientific lines leading to higher cocoon yield which in turn resulted in improvement of their socio-economic status by way of increased employment generation and better remuneration.
To address the problem of inadequate rearing space available with silkworm rearers:
Transfer of Technology for silkworm rearing and cocoon production.
Economic Uplift of women and their empowerment through the avocation of sericulture.
To prepare different designs of crafts from otherwise waste (cut/pierced) cocoons.
Capacity building and enhancement of rearing skills of rearers and field functionaries through effective training programs
Activities in brief
Identification of 200 Tribal farmers from Tehsil Lolab and Uri in District Kupwara and Baramulla respectively in collaboration with Department of Sericulture, Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir.
Twenty Low Cost Silkworm rearing were erected in both Tehsils of Project area.
Silkworm rearing was conducted in all the Twenty Huts during the month of May 2022.
100 DFLs of Silkworm seed was reared at twenty different sites in Uri and Lolab Tehsil.
200 Farmers @10/Hut were registered and provided training in silkworm rearing for 40 Days.
Average green cocoon yield of 52Kgs/Ounce was harvested from each Hut against average field yield of 32 Kgs over years.
Cocoons were dried as per common procedure of Sun drying.
The increase in commercial cocoon Characters was also observed with significant increase of 15-25%.
The Silkworm rearing was conducted successfully at 20 sites in Tehsil Uri and Lolab. During the trial farmers were provided on spot training of constructing Low Cost Rearing Huts in un used land available near their dwelling sheds from Locally available material which otherwise is of no use to them. The farmers were also trained for 40 days about scientific way of silkworm rearing. During the program all equipment’s and necessary silkworm rearing items including material for erecting LCRHs Huts were provided free of cost to tribal beneficiaries. The farmers were happy to see huge increase of 40-45% in productivity and 15-25% increase in quality after harvesting crop from these Huts. The overwhelming response of Tribal farmers was highly encouraging. The NABARD funded projects will be continued for next year 2023 to bring more and more beneficiaries under this project and fulfill other objectives satisfactorily and successfully. The Project will end with formation of first of its kind Sericulture Farmers Organisation in North Kashmir. The response of farmers was recorded both digitally and in written for preparation of this success story.
(Note: The farmers interested in the trade may contact Dr Khursheed Ahmad Dar, Assistant Professor, College of Temperate Sericulture, SKUAST-KashmirPI NABARD Project. Mobile No.9682618030)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.