Cocoon prices crash, leaves growers worried

Facing losses: Farmers sell their cocoon yield in the cocoon market in Santhemarahalli of Chamarajanagar district. DH photo

As the sericulture sector witnesses a downtrend, the fall in cocoon prices and in the prices of raw silk have left the farmers and the raw silk weavers high and dry. The farmers in the district, particularly in Santhemarahalli – a key mulberry growing area are facing a tough time this year.

The prices of cocoon have crashed from Rs 300- Rs 380 to Rs 150 - Rs 200 per kg in the cocoon market here. There are no buyers as the raw silk weavers are hesitating to buy cocoons because of steep fall in the prices of silk.

The prices of silk nose dived in the last one month to Rs 1300 from Rs 2,500 per kg. The price crash has left both the farmers and the weavers worried, even as they blame the government for the crisis. The policy of the sericulture department and lack of support is also the reason for the prices to fall, says farmers and have demanded a support price on cocoons. The central government’s decision to bring down the import duty on silk and cocoons have been primarily responsible for woes of local farmers, say the growers.

Traditionally, Santhemarahalli has been a mulberry growing area because of irrigation facility and rain-fed lands. Many farmers are now shifting from sericulture to pulses, vegetables and other crops. During its heydays about a decade ago, the cocoon market in Santhemarahalli would see at least 1000 bags of cocoons. Now, there are hardly 50 bags of cocoons arriving in the market.

The sericulture provided a good returns to the farmers and served employment opportunities for many labourers in the village.   The new scenario has forced labourers to migrate to towns and cities in search of work. On flipside, raw silk weavers are also facing hardship as banks deny loans. The growers and weavers have urged the government to extend some sort of relief.

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