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Good days of silk

Bangladesh government has taken several measures to upgrade the silk industry

The lives and earning of many people are linked with the historical industry of silk. With the influence of open market, foreign silk is dominating the globe but in spite of that, local silk and cloth made of this silk are quite valued. By investing less amount of money in mulberry plants and silkworms, one can take an initiative to produce silk and there are many scopes to gain self-dependency by that. With the multifaceted initiatives taken by the government, silk cultivation or sericulture is now spreading nationwide.

Silkworm larvae
Figure1: Silkworm larvae.

The Silk Production, Research and Training Centre of Bangladesh Silk Development Board located in Maynamati of Cumilla and controlled by the Textile Ministry has got breakthrough in sericulture.  Gradually this center is going towards a profitable stage. Through this center, the government is earning revenue and alongside thousands of people can dream of self-dependency through the training.

According to the authorities, only the uneducated or less-educated women of the rural and urban areas are given hand-to-hand training for mulberry cultivation and silkworm. Due to the efforts of the current government, this potential sericulture is advancing towards prosperity not only in Cumilla but also in other places of the country as well. This sericulture is increasing rapidly in Rangamati and the Hill Tracts.

Unmodified silkworms snack on mulberry leaves
Figure 2: Unmodified silkworms snack on mulberry leaves.

The Process of preparing silk cocoon from mulberry leaves

Eggs those size is like a dot, and from those eggs come silkworms. From a single silk moth, 400/500 eggs are being collected. However, previously only 20/25 kilograms of silk were produced from 100 eggs here, but now they can yield 50-55 kilograms of silk cocoons.

Species and production

Among the species of silk or mulberry plants produced in Maynamati, there are BM-3, BM-4, BM-6, BM-10, and BM-11 as well as other advanced local and Thai species of seedlings. The leaves of this tree provide food for the silkworms.

On the other hand, there are 25 advanced species of silkworms in this center, which are crossbred among the males and females to breed developed species of silkworm eggs and larvae. Among the 25 advanced species of silkworms, 14 are of pure species, 6 are local, 8 are foreign and 9 are hybrids.  It takes three weeks to produce a whole cocoon from the start.

Colorful raw silk thread
Figure 3: Colorful raw silk thread.

Higher profits in less capital

By investing less capital in sericulture there are lots of scopes for becoming self-dependent by taking self-initiative with mulberry plants and silkworms. Authorities have said that at the Silk Production and Research Centre of Cumilla’s Maynamati, they emphasize on the research of producing matriarchal and patriarchal species of silk.

The Assistant Director of the center Mr. Kanchan Baran Das has informed that after hatching one egg, 400 silkworm larvae are produced and one hundred pieces of such eggs cost 205 Taka only, from which 40 thousand silkworm larvae can be produced.

From one hundred eggs and later silkworms, 30/45 kilograms of cocoon can be made. Each kilogram of cocoon can be sold for 300 taka.

He said that to produce high-quality sari 2 kilograms of the cocoon is sufficient. The silkworms from here are sent to various industrial units especially in places like Rajshahi, Jhineidah, Thakurgaon, and NGOs like IIRD, BRAC, and Karitas etc according to their demand.

In Maynamati, there are three rooms for nurturing silkworms, one factory for producing silk thread, one laboratory, one room for storing various tools and instruments, one dormitory and a facility with 40 beds for the lodging of trainees.

In the last fiscal year, Maynamati Silk Centre produced around 10 thousands of eggs; each hundred eggs are sold to the hill tracts for 205 taka only.  It has come to be known that in the beginning of the current fiscal year, 4 thousand eggs have been produced in the last three months, and during the remainder 9 months, it is targeted to produce 12/15 thousand eggs of estimation.  Meanwhile, in the last fiscal year after producing 25 thousand mulberry plant seedlings 10 thousand were sent to Khagrachari district, 10 thousand to Feni and 5 thousand to Langolkot and the southern town of Cumilla Each seedling cost was 50 paisa only.

Required more steps to advance the sector

Currently, the Silk Development Board is managing the silk production, training and research centers located in various districts including Maynamati of Burichang Upazilla of Cumilla, Jhineidah, Rajshahi, Thakurgaon, Feni, Bandarban, Khagrachari, and Rangamati.

Industry experts informed that many steps have been taken to increase the import duty of foreign thread and textile to save the country’s silk industry. However, most of the silk farmers are terminal and landless people. They don’t have the sufficient capital. Organizational assistance is also inadequate.

Multiple steps are being taken to eradicate the hindrances in the marketing of their produced silk and cocoons. According to a silk businessman, in the last two fiscal years at least 1.5 million mulberry seedlings have been produced and distributed. This number has been increased to 2 million now.

At present more than 400 tons of silk is produced each year in an average. Along with that almost 50 tons of silk thread is also produced. However, the industrial units of silk mills in Rajshahi and Thakurgaon require a greater amount of silk thread.

In many districts, sericulture has been included in the government’s action plan of ‘A Home, A Farm’. Under this, currently, thousands of farmers are cultivating the mulberry plant in 95 Upazillas of 35 districts. This number is increasing gradually.

The Maynamati Silk Production, Research and Training Center of Cumilla have been successful in sericulture. The production operation is run every day by 10 working heads among whom only 3 persons are from the government and 8-10 men and women laborers hired according to the amount of task at hand. There are training facilities as well throughout the year.

The Assistant Director of Maynamati Silk Center, Kanchan Baran Das said that in spite of the inadequacy of workforce and allocated budget this silk center is in a profitable state in producing eggs, cocoons, and seedlings through production and research.

“People who are interested in sericulture even at their own home we will provide all sorts of assistance, he said.

There is a big demand for silk threads in the country but the foreign threads and fake silk thread, which are dominating the market, are a big hindrance to bringing this industry to a good shape, he opined.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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