Duty sops for crisis-hit silk farmers

Pranab promises to address Karnataka silk farmers problems

After meeting with an MP’s delegation led by Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily, the finance minister said his ministry and Commerce Ministry were studying the situation on supply front as well as farmers’ issues.

The delegation urged the minister to increase the customs duty from existing 5 per cent to 30 per cent and set up a revolving fund with Rs 200 crore under market intervention scheme.

Explaining the problems being faced by farmers in Karnataka, Moily said the State being major producer of raw silk, over 11 lakh people were engaged in different sericulture activities including mulberry cultivation, silkworm rearing, silk reeling, weaving. The Centre’s decision to reduce the import duty not only resulted in price-crash, it also led to unrest among the farming community in the State, where the farmers have been holding protests over the past few weeks.

The Centre has reduced the import duty on raw silk effective from April 1, 2011, from 30 per cent to 5 per cent, to augment supply of raw silk for domestic weavers. However, this has caused mayhem among silk farmers in Karnataka, which produces 90 per cent of silk in the country, resulting in the crash in prices of the commodity.

Earlier in the day, the State MPs attended the breakfast meeting organised by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Rahman Khan at his office. They decided to take up the silk farmers’ issues with the Union government. Union Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa, MPs A Vishwanath, Druvanarayana, Shivakumar Udasi, Prabhakar Kore, Gaddi Gowdar and Suresh Angadi were present.

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