Silk is the most elegant textile in the world with unparalleled grandeur, natural sheen, and inherent affinity for dyes, high absorbance, light weight, soft touch and high durability and known as the “Queen of Textiles” the world over. On the other hand, it stands for livelihood opportunity for millions owing to high employment oriented, low capital intensive and remunerative nature of its production. The very nature of this industry with its rural based on-farm and off-farm activities and enormous employment generation potential has attracted the attention of the planners and policy makers to recognize the industry among one of the most appropriate avenues for socio-economic development of a largely agrarian economy like India.
Silk has been intermingled with the life and culture of the Indians. India has a rich and complex history in silk production and its silk trade which dates back to 15th century. Sericulture industry provides employment to approximately 8.7 million persons in rural and semi-urban areas in India. Of these, a sizeable number of workers belong to the economically weaker sections of society, including women. India’s traditional and culture bound domestic market and an amazing diversity of silk garments that reflect geographic specificity has helped the country to achieve a leading position in silk industry.
India has the unique distinction of being the only country producing all the five known commercial silks, namely, mulberry, tropical tasar, oak tasar, eri and muga, of which muga with its golden yellow glitter is unique and prerogative of India.
Mulberry sericulture is mainly practised in states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Bodoland (Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts of Assam), West Bengal, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu who are the major silk producing states in the country. North East has the unique distinction of being the only region producing four varieties of silk viz., Mulberry, Oak Tasar, Muga and Eri. Overall NE region contributes 18% of India's total silk production.
India is the second largest producer of silk in the world. Among the four varieties of silk produced in 2020-21, Mulberry accounted for 70.72% (23,860 MT), Tasar 8.02% (2,705 MT), Eri 20.55% (6,935 MT) and Muga 0.71% (239 MT) of the total raw silk production of 33,739 MT (Provisional).
The silk production has been reduced in the country during 2020-21 due to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The total raw silk production in the country during 2020-21 was 33,739 MT, which was 5.8% lesser than the production achieved during the previous year 2019-20 and registered around 86.5% of achievement against the annual silk production target for the year 2020-21. The bivoltine raw silk production declined by 3.4% to 6,772 MT during 2020-21 from 7,009 MT during 2019-20. Similarly, vanya silk, which includes Tasar, Eri and Muga silks, have reduced by 13.8%, 3.7% and 0.8%, respectively during 2020-21 over 2019-20. The area under mulberry has reduced by 0.8% in 2020-21 compared to previous year. (2.38 lakh ha.)
The export earnings during 2020-21 were Rs. 1418.97 crores.
The estimated employment generation under sericulture in the country was 8.7 million persons during 2020-21 compared to 9.4 million persons in 2019-20,
indicating a reduction of 7.4%.
The demand for superior quality bivoltine silk is increasing in India for domestic consumption as well as value added silk products for the export market. The Ministry of Textiles Government of India and Departments of Sericulture in various states provide technical and financial assistance for enhancing the bivoltine silk production.
Source : Central Silk Board
Sericulture is the functional area under the Ministry of Textiles. Some of the recent policy initiatives taken by the Ministry to promote sericulture are as follows.
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