Silk regains sheen in Kolar district

Price of cocoons move northwards despite impediments to increase productivity

  Even as the region is reeling under drought, more than 21,000 farmers engaged in sericulture are a relieved lot. The reason - despite a dip in production, cocoons are fetching a decent price in the market.

There has been a steady decline in the area under sericulture in the district over the course of time. The activity is not taken up in more than 8,000 hectares owing to lack of resources including labour. However, the notable feature is that there is no dent in the production despite the decrease in the area under sericulture.

 Farmers who have taken up sericulture are plagued by problems identical to those faced by others - erratic power, scanty rains and water scarcity. The cause for cheer this year is the upward movement in the price of cocoons this year.

While a kg of mixed variety of cocoons fetched Rs 156 per kg last July, the price has now gone up to Rs 200. The minimum price itself has seen a northward movement from Rs 74 to Rs 115 and the average price has spurt from Rs 116 to Rs 162 per kg.

Similarly, the maximum price of bivoltine cocoons which was ruling at Rs 168 per kg last year has zoomed up to Rs 205 with the minimum price witnessing a rise from Rs 140 to Rs 180. Keeping in tune with the rise in prices, 965 tonnes of cocoons have been traded registering a turnover of Rs 15.02 crore as against 925 tonnes and a turnover of Rs 11.29 crore as of July last.

Thus, while paucity of rains have slowed down the momentum of agricultural activities, more than 21,000 farmers of 1,610 villages in the district are into agriculture and are laughing all the way to the banks with the spurt in price of cocoons.

State assistance

Both the Union and the State governments have formulated several schemes for the benefit of sericulturists - Catalytic Development Scheme, Reshme Varadaana Yojane - to name a few, in addition to providing subsidy for extension activities, mulberry cultivation and protection. The officers of the Sericulture Department, however, point out to lack of conducive environment to make maximum use of these benefits.

“Cocoons have fetched the maximum price this year. Sericulturists will certainly make a fortune this year. Unfortunately, rain, the most crucial factor, is playing truant. There is neither water in the borewells and erratic power supply is compounding the problems. The quality of cocoons produced amidst these shortcomings has naturally come down. However, the prices have not gone down,”says Deputy Director (Marketing) of Sericulture Department, T M Govinda Gowda. The producers who intend to increase the production in view of the spurt in prices have been rendered helpless on account of adverse condition, he pointed out.

Stunting factors

“Silk could have become gold for the sericulturists this year, but for power and water shortage. But the conditions are not favourable. We are not getting water in spite of spending money. Labourers are also not available even if we offer handsome wages. These are some of the factors stunting the silk production,”  Manjunath, a farmer of Naganal told Deccan Herald.

Not withstanding the obstacles to increase  production, the rise in price has brought cheers back on the face of sericulturists. Nature’s bounty in the form of rains could verily turn the cheers into an euphoria.

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