'Worms' weave lives, despite hardships

'Worms' weave lives, despite hardships

Some sericulturists make more profit in sericulture than areca, says official

Literally, the ‘worms’ give life for Gulabi Nayak of Chilimbibare at Beluvayi near Moodbidri, who finds contentment in rearing silkworms and cultivating mulberry for her small scale cottage industry, which has a significant amount of share in her livelihood.

One of the 74 recognised sericulturists in Dakshina Kannada district, Gulabi is engaged in sericulture along with her husband and children for the last 15 years.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, she said that it was not an easy option to start with silkworm rearing in the coastal belt. “But now it has become a part of our lifestyle,” she adds.

Giving details about the business, Gulabi’s husband Annappa Nayak said that the family markets the cocoons in Ramanagar Silk Market in Hassan and gets a profit of Rs 10,000 on an average, from 50-60 Kg of cocoons. “We have a satisfaction that we have succeeded against all odds,” the couple add.

Another sericulturist Ganesh Shettigar who is following sericulture in his three-acre land in Bacchappu in Hebri says that it is the cost of pesticides that worries the sericulturists and hence it would be better if sericulture department provides pesticides and medicines at a subsidised cost. He adds that there should be marketing provisions in the vicinity for large scale sericulturists of the district since they are bound to transport the coccons to Ramanagar silk market in Hassan.

Challenges

Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Sericulture Department Deputy Director Ishwar Bhat says that the low statistics of sericulturists in the district is mainly due to the climatic conditions of this part of coastal region.

Sericulture generally suits to the regions like Mysore, Kolar, Mandya and Chitradugra where annual rainfall is 600 mm while the coastal region gets an annual rainfall of 4000 mm, he says.

“Sericulture becomes a life saver to farmers when it is carried out as a standby occupation. There are some sericulturists who have gained more profit in sericulture compared to areca. But, since they have to pass through the hurdles of disease control, manual labour etc, there are less takers,” he adds. Sericulturists are of the common opinion that Government should fix a minimum price for silk, to support sericulturists. In spite of producing best quality of silk, Indian silk market is pushed to the second place, after China silk market with China silk encroaching the market, they lament.

Government measures
Sericulture inspector Narasimha says that if cocoon rates go below Rs 160 per kg, the Government gives a support price of Rs 40 in order to make up the loss.

The sericulture department provides financial support for building worm rearing house, cultivating mulberry plants, drip irrigation etc., to the beginners, depending on the eligibility norms.

Also, sericulturists are provided guidance by the department with regard to technological advancements etc from time to time, Narasimha adds.

Sericulture inspectors and field officers deputed by the department see to it that, scientific methods are followed by farmers in mulberry cultivation and in worm rearing houses.

A Government cocoon market in Bantwal, Basic Seed Production Centre in Gerukatte near Guruvayanakere operating under the Sericulture department, DK Zilla Panchayat, cater to the needs of small scale sericulturists of the district, he says.

Production

As per the 20 point report of the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat sericulture department, production of silk cocoons of 3.144 metric tonne has been achieved as against the target of 4.98 metric tonne during the period April 2012-March 2013.
Future bleak?

In a nutshell, sericulturists feel that sericulture department should be rejuvenated by the Government so as to encourage the existing few sericulturists in the district to utilise their experience and expertise to the highest potential.

They should be made efficient enough to contribute their major share towards the silk productivity of Karnataka, which has a significant place in the map of world silk market, before the rare occupation of the district gets embedded in the pages of history.

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