Silk growers protest falling prices of cocoons

They lock up silk market in Shidlaghatta, halt auction temporarily

Worrisome: Silk growers and reelers at the cocoon market in Chikkaballapur. DH Photo

Condemning the government policy to cut the import duty on China silk, local silk growers as well as reelers said the price of local raw silk had fallen over the last one week.

The protesters accused the government of failing to respond to their problems. They suggested that the government purchase silk yarn for at least Rs 3,000 per kg (the price of China silk is Rs 2,600 per kg).

Minimum price

“Then, the market rate too will increase. If we get a minimum price of Rs 250 per kg of cocoon, our problems will be solved to a certain extent,” they said.

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha district unit working president Bhaktarahalli Byregowda said the price of cocoons had dropped by more than half, “from Rs 250 to about Rs 100 now.”

Byregowda said mulberry leaves cost Rs 300 per bag and 100 silkworms need to be fed at least 40 bags of mulberry leaves. The workers need to be paid Rs 1,600 as wages.
Other expenses included, a silk grower has to spend at least Rs 15,000 to rear 100 worms. “While the growers invest so much money, all they get for the silk produced using 100 worms is a mere Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000, incurring a loss of Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000.”

A pittance

He said only one kilogram of raw silk can be produced from eight-and-a-half kg of cocoon. The reelers purchase cocoons at Rs 140 per kg and the cost adds up to Rs 1,500 for the quantity of cocoon required to produce one kg of silk. “But, in turn, they get a mere Rs 1,400 for the silk,” he said.

Closure imminent

There are about 4,000 silk producing units in the entire taluk, which survive on the silk growers. They too would have to be closed down under the present circumstances, warned the reelers. They submitted a memorandum to Tahsildar B Mallikarjun, who arrived at the spot.

Farmer leaders Lakshminarayan, Kempareddy, Ramakrishnappa and others participated in the protest.

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