Silk growers to protest in Bangalore tomorrow

Silk growers to protest in Bangalore tomorrow

A file photo of silk cocoon market.With a view to intensify their struggle against import duty cut on raw silk from 30 per cent to five per cent and to pressure the government, silk growers will stage a State-wide protest in Bangalore on May 10.

They will hold a  demonstration at Anand Rao Circle in front of Mahatma Gandhi statue and will be joined by farmers from various parts of the State.

Taking a decision to the effect at a press conference in the district on Saturday, Chikkaballapur District Silk Growers’ Welfare Committee president Malluru Shivanna said the State government had failed to intervene and take steps to tackle the crisis in sericulture, following the import duty cut on raw silk.

Despite several protests and rallies being held both at the district and taluk levels the State government has failed to act and contain the crisis. Although the farmers held a dharna in front of the office of the Union Minister for Law Veerappa Moily in the district and submitted a memorandum to him, no action has been taken so far, said Malluru Shivanna.

Sericulture is largely practiced in Mandya, Ramanagaram, Kolar, Chikkaballapur districts and Bangalore rural in the State. Despite the State meeting more than half of the country’s silk requirement, the condition of silk growers continues to remain deplorable, he rued.

Before the announcement of the Union Budget on February 28, 2011, per kg of cocoon cost Rs 400, while after the reduction of import duty to 5 per cent, the price of per kg of cocoon fell to Rs 120. This cut on the import duty has dealt a severe blow to sericulturists in the State, he said.

A huge loss

The silk industry in both Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts is incurring a loss of Rs one-and-a-half-crore every day owing to the Union government’s imposition of cut on import duty. The lives of more than 70 per cent of the families who are dependent on sericulture for their livelihood are rendered vulnerable.

Also speaking on the occasion the Vedike convener Yaluvahalli Sonne Gowda said, “If immediate steps are not taken to address the crisis in the sericulture sector, the silk growers will lay siege to the office of the Commissioner for Sericulture in Bangalore on May 24. If the government refuses to respond to the woes of the farmers, then a district-wide bundh will be announced. A ‘Parliament Chalo’ programme will be held in New Delhi. However, as a last resort the farmers will go on a hunger strike,” he warned.

State meets 60 pc of India’s silk needs

The import duty cut on raw silk has severely affected silk growers in Karnataka, as it meets more than 60 per cent of the country’s silk needs.

At present India produces 18,000 to 20,000 metric tonne of raw silk, while the annual requirement is nearly 30,000 metric tonne. The deficit of 10,000 metric tonne of silk is met by China.

China silk is of a superior quality and its history dates back to 3,500 BC. Moreover, compared to the huge investment made by the Chinese government in silk research and development the investment made by the Indian government is insignificant.

 Unlike other farming sectors, sericulture generates employment at several levels starting from mulberry cultivators, farmers who rear silkworms and reelers to weavers.

The current crisis in sericulture can be contained by ensuring Rs 400 per kg of cocoon; banning duty free import of silk, reversing the current import duty cut on raw silk from 30 per cent to 5 per cent; strengthening Karnataka Silk Marketing Board (KSMB) and Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation (KSIC) through pumping adequate funds so that they can intervene in the market during crisis; to give a boost to research and development in silk sector and provide adequate loans to silk growers, observe silk growers, farmer leaders and activists.