Silk farming losing favour among farmers on the coast

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2014-07-13 15:45:00 – Mangalore, India

Silk is considered the most important of textile fibres and therefore is called the “queen of textile seems to have lost favour among farmers in Dakshina Kannada, with just 60 farmers taking up silk farming in the district. Due to high prices of rubber and areca, many farmers started taking up plantations of the cash crops.


Farmers grow mulberry over an area totaling 28.48 hectares, or nearly 70.4 acres. This translates to a little more than one acre per farmer. The lack of interest in silk farming over the past two decades has made the Department of Sericulture nearly defunct.


A total of 15 officials watch over schemes and projects for sericulture, totaling just Rs. 3.65 lakh here – a figure pointed out at review meetings by district in-charge ministers as being a “fraction” of the department’s salaries.


Though the coast has been considered a non-traditional area for sericulture, the decline in interest has been steady since the heyday in 1991, when nearly 2,270 farmers cultivated mulberry on 1,362.42 acres here.


Although textile hoardings proclaim pure silk as the queen of saris, Dakshina Kannada has lost out on a local market. While, Udupi saw a minor resurgence with the silk reeling unit at Nakhre in Karkala taluk encouraging nearly 100 farmers to take up sericulture, the main reason for the decline is the loss of a market. Farmers need to go to Ramanagar, Hassan or Bangalore to sell their silks.


The market at B.C. Road was closed in 1995 as reelers found easy availability of silk in the plains of the State; and this subsequently led to increased cost of transportation, as well as problems of deferred payment by vendors.


Furthermore, the lack of open bare land and the labour intensive nature of sericulture deterred many from taking up silk rearing.


Though 777 farmers gave up silk farming in Belthangady since 1991, on the other side Mahabaleshwar Bhat has stuck on cultivating silk on 0.75 acres in his five-acre farm in Bellal village near Ujire, he stated that he has an average income of Rs. 1.5 lakh annually.


Although he has reduced the acreage of silk farming due to lack of local market and transportation problems, but still continues it as it requires just four months of work and gives a good gain.

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