secy    Author: Anant Kumar Singh (Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India)

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved a Rs.2161.68 crore Scheme called “Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry” for three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20. The Scheme has four major components viz. (i) Research & Development (R&D), Training, Transfer of Technology and I.T. Initiatives (ii) Seed Organizations and farmers extension centres (iii) Coordination and Market Development for seed, yarn and silk products and (iv) Quality Certification System (QCS) by creating a chain of Silk Testing facilities, Farm based & post-cocoon Technology Up-gradation, and Export Brand Promotion. The scheme will be implemented by the Ministry through the Central Silk Board (CSB).

The scheme is expected to increase the silk production from the level of 30348 MTs during 2016-17 to 38500 MTs by end of 2019-20. Production of mulberry (multivoltine and bivoltine) silk will increase from 20478 MTs to 27000 MTs, including increase in bivoltine silk from 5266 MTs to 8500 MTs. The production of Vanya (Muga, Eri and Tasar) silk will increase from 9075 MTs to 11500 MTs.  Mulberry silk produced in India is predominantly multivoltine of 2A grade and the share of high grade bivoltine silk (i.e. 4A grade) is only 15%.  This scheme envisages increasing the production of 4A grade mulberry (bivoltine) silk to 25%.  In these three years, the productivity of raw silk will increase from 100 kg/ha to 111 kg/ha. The silk sector currently provides employment to 85.10 lakh persons which is expected to rise to 100 lakh by 2019-20.

The scheme proposes to set up Kissan nursery covering 453 acres of land for raising saplings of improved varieties of mulberry having better survival rate besides taking up of 5800 acres plantation with improved mulberry varieties at farmers’ level. 131 new Chawki Rearing Centres (CRCs) will be established for scientific handling of silkworm eggs and rearing of young age silkworm larvae under controlled conditions for enhancing the quality of cocoon and their harvest.  81 units will be installed to provide cocoon drying facility in scientific manner for improved reeling. 162 motorized charkha & 4-6 basin reeling machines and 130 multi-end reeling machines will replace traditional reeling machinery for efficient and quality silk production and improving the working conditions in the reeling segment of the silk industry.  In order to give more thrust on production of bivoltine silk, 29 units of Automatic Reeling Machine, which was being imported earlier and is now developed indigenously by the CSB, will be distributed to the reelers at subsidised cost.

Under the R&D component of the scheme, race improvement will be done through the development of improved host plant varieties and improved disease resistant silk worm breeds by having collaborative research with national and international research institutes. The CSB has already taken steps to enrich existing genetic pool with imported genetic material from countries such as Bulgaria, China and Japan and this effort will continue with more vigour during the scheme period. Use of silkworm by-products (pupa) for poultry feed, sericin for cosmetic applications and product diversification into non-woven fabrics, silk denim, silk knit etc. will be given thrust for additional revenue generation.

Seed Production Units will be equipped and strengthened to bring in quality standards in production network, besides increasing the production capacity to cater to the increased demand of silk in future. Financial and technical support would be provided to private graineurs, adopted silk worm seed rearers and CRCs to produce quality seed, cocoon and chawki silkworms respectiviely. 19 Basic Seed Farms and 20 silkworm seed production centres will be set up to take the silkworm seed production from 500 lakh disease free layings (dfls) in 2016-17 to  595 lakh dfls by 2020.

Registration process under Seed Act and reporting by seed production centres, basic seed farms and extension centres will be automated by developing web based software. All the beneficiaries under the scheme i.e. silk farmers, seed producers and chawki rearers will be brought on a DBT mode with Aadhaar linkage. A Helpline will be set up for timely redress of grievances and all outreach programmes.

Convergence with the agriculture and rural development programmes of other Ministries like MGNREGS, Mahila Kissan Sashaktikaran Pariyojna (MKSP), National Livelihood Rural Mission (NLRM), National Afforestation Programme (NAP) etc. and State Governments will be pursued to tap resources for sericulture activities.

Silk products are costly products. Therefore, there is an increasing demand from the consumers for quality assurance. Keeping this in view, 21 Cocoon Testing Centres and 8 Silk Testing Centres are proposed to be set up, under the scheme. Silk Mark Organisation of India (SMOI) will undertake brand promotion of Indian Silk Mark through Exhibitions, Expos and other publicity avenues with the vision that over the period only silk products conforming to prescribed standards are sold in the market. A Design Development Bank will also be developed in collaboration with NIFT, NID and other reputed Institutes for support on design, product development and diversification.

Under the scheme, full cost will be borne by Govt. of India for infrastructure development. As regards the individual benefits, 25% of the cost will be borne by the individual beneficiary, 50% by the Central Government and 25% by the State Govt. If the beneficiaries belong to SC or ST category, they will bear only 10% and the Centre will bear 65% of the cost. In case of beneficiaries belonging to NE States, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand & Chattisgarh, the Centre will bear 80% of the cost while the individual and the State Govt. will bear 10% each.

At present, there are total 27 silk producing states, of which, only 17 have a separate Department or Directorate of Sericulture. Even those States are understaffed. The scheme emphasizes on more active engagement with the States. As suitability of the silkworm breeds and host plant varieties to local geographical and climatic conditions is key to the success of the sericulture activities, the States have an important role to play in increasing the silk production of the country. This scheme creates the appropriate eco-system for greater participation of States in implementing the Scheme.