Eerie silence shrouds silk markets

Cut in import duty on silk has sounded a death knell to sericulture in Chikkaballapur

The Union government slashing the import duty on silk from 31 per cent to 5 per cent has sounded a death knell to sericulturists and a host of others dependent on the industry in the district.

“In the wake of cut on import duty on silk, the markets wear a deserted look. In the months of January and February last year there was a supply of three to four tonnes of cocoons in the market. The markets witnessed huge transactions,” said a reeler.

However, the situation this year is different. The supply of cocoons has been reduced to a mere 600 kg. It is heartrending to see the deserted silk markets, he added.

Deplorable situation
“The situation is deplorable for both sericulturists and reelers. Eking out a living has become tough. We do not know any other work other than reeling out silk, as it is a family profession. How can one possibly reel out silk when the supply is low. Who is going to address our woes?” rues a reeler.
If one takes a walk inside the premises of the silk market at Vapasandra in Chikkaballapur district, one can hear many such stories.

“ Heavy debts have further aggravated the problem,” he added.

Last year per kg of cocoon cost anywhere between Rs 300 to 400. However, now it costs a mere Rs 160.

The State government, which had promised economic assistance following a district bundh demanding protection to the silk industry and regulating slashing of price, has failed to keep its word. The assurances of providing subsidy to sericulturists and others dependent on the industry have only turned futile, said a sericulturist.

The economic package failed to reach the needy, said a reeler.

“Neither can we continue sericulture nor can we give up, thus, sericulturists in the district find themselves in a quagmire. A majority of sericulturists are unable to purchase the fertiliser for mulberry cultivation.

The plight of silk growers is becoming worse, as they are unable to recover the cost ploughed into cultivation. It is saddening that the State government has turned a blind eye to the situation of silk growers in Chikkaballapur district,” said silk growers in the district.

People speak
No financial assistance
The number of reelers in the cocoon market has come down from 350 to just 50. Due to fall in price, most of the reelers are migrating in search of better jobs in other places. No financial support from the government or banks has put the reelers in lurch. Central and State governments have
neglected sericulture.
Chand Pasha, reeler

No concern towards reelers
Though the problem for reelers started in last march, no action has been taken yet nor any remedies given and the situation remains the same. We cannot expert returns for the money invested. Cocoons, produced in tonnes, today have reduced to kgs. In coming days, the produce will be lesser than the present.
Mohammed Ijaz, reeler

Adverse situation
We have not been able to come out of recession in sericulture. Scarcity of mulberry leaves has hit silk worm growth and adding to our woes, price of fertiliser has doubled. Lack of daily wage workers has worsened our condition. There is not even a ray of hope in sericulturists as there have been no action even after submitting memorandums to the prominent ministers in State Government.
G Ramachandra, sericulturist

Plight of the poor
Those who have money, will take up sericulture as well as animal husbandry. But those who are economically backward cannot afford to shift to animal husbandry nor cannot continue with sericulture. If the same condition prevails, we will be forced to migrate to other places in search of job.
A Venkateshappa, sericulturist

No way ahead
Dairy farmers can expect an average amount in return for selling milk to the dairies. Even a small trader also can hope for returns. But this is not the situation with sericulturists. We have incurred heavy loss. We might have to look for an alternate employment, as there is no way ahead in
sericulture.
B Munegowda, sericulturist 

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