India Silk Industry

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The India silk industry is an integral part of the Indian Textile Industry and is among the oldest industries in India. The silk industry in India engages around 60 lakh workers and it involves small and marginal farmers.

The production output of Silk industry in India is 17,300 tons of silk and it produces 4 types of silk viz., Mulburry, Muga, Tassore, and Eri. The crux of India silk industry lies with the Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal. "Sericulture" or rearing of silkworm revolves around these Indian states and thus the farming of silk is concentrated in these states only. Sericulture involves rearing of food plants - the mulburry plants, rearing of the silk insect, and finally post-cocoon processes such as twisting, dyeing, weaving, printing, and finishing. Recently, there has been a sudden drop in the production level of silk in India due to the following factors:

  • Imports of cheap and alternative textiles from other Asian neighbors
  • Use of outdated manufacturing technology
  • Primitive and unscientific "reeling" and "weaving" techniques
  • Use of poor quality seeds
  • Low production of bivoltine seeds
  • Use of non-graded and diseased seeds
  • Poor knowledge of farm disease amongst farmers
  • Poor supply chain management
  • Huge unorganized and decentralized sector
  • High production cost
  • Recurring droughts
  • Increased import of silk from China
Strengths of Indian Silk Industry are as follows:

  • Huge production capacity
  • Efficient raw material manufacturing capacity
  • Large pool of skilled and cheap labor
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Huge export potential
  • Large domestic market
  • Very low import content
  • Flexible silk manufacturing systems

The Central Silk Board under the Ministry of Textiles Government of India has taken some steps to revive this sick industry. It has collaborated with the Japanese Government for technology cooperation for increased cultivation and use of bivoltine seeds. Further, the 10th Plan envisages an increased silk production of 21,800 MT, increased exports by 15%, and creation of livelihoods for around 61 lakh people by the end of year 2007.