Stepping out of the cocoon

Stepping out of the cocoon

Silk has always been an integral part of the culture of the State, and the country. However, producing quality silk requires systematic training of the persons involved in the art and comprises a series of pre-and post-cocoon activities. It is said that, Tipu Sultan sent a few of his subjects to Bengal and China to learn sericulture with a special focus on the post-cocoon stage.    

The beginnings

Later in 1896, the State got its very own training centre and began producing silk. J N Tata established an institution called the Tata Silk Farm in Basavangudi in
Bengaluru, which encompassed soil to silk activities. Under the supervision of Mrs and Mr Odzu, the Japanese silk experts whom Tata had brought, the farm was successful within a short period of time. Tata Silk Farm was the first sericulture training centre in the country. Here, apprentices were given free training for at least three months. The trainees studied mulberry cultivation, silkworm rearing, cross-breeding, seed production, detection of disease using a microscope, preservation of the cocoons for seed and silk, reeling and hank making, packing, weaving, etc. Inspired by this centre, more schools were established across the country.

By the first decade of 20th century, the silk industry of India had almost been centred around the Mysore province. Realising the need for developing appropriate sericulture technologies for the tropical conditions prevailing in India, Central Silk Board established the Central Sericulture Research Institute (CSRI) at Channapatna on April 1, 1961. Later, the institute was shifted to Mysore in 1963 and merged with All India Sericulture Training Institute (AISTI) to form Central Sericultural
Research and Training Institute (CSRTI) in 1965. Generation of technical manpower at various levels has been one of the important activities of CSRTI since its inception.

Starting from a certificate course in the 1960s, the training programmes at the institute over time have amplified to offer different need-based national and international courses. The major training programmes offered during the 1970s were Postgraduate Diploma in Sericulture (PGDS), refresher courses, a stipendiary training programme, special training courses to meet the specific requirements of the projects and farmers' training programmes.

During 2005-2007 with the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), CSRTI implemented an in-country training programme to train the extension workers of state departments on bivoltine sericulture. Since 1994, it has been offering MSc and diploma courses in sericulture technology. In addition, short-term, non-calendared and need-based ad hoc courses are organised. So far, CSRTI has trained thousands of farmers, departmental officers from sericulture states, foreign trainees, entrepreneurs, students and women.

The Central Silk Board has research and development institutes at West Bengal, Kashmir, Bihar, Assam and Bengaluru apart from CSRTI to teach sericulture to the people from low-income groups. There is a separate post-cocoon technology institute in Bengaluru as well. Here, there are various training programmes for reelers, weavers, dyers, spinners, entrepreneurs, departmental staff and others.

Promoting employment

The Chairperson of Central Silk Board (CSB) K M Hanumantharayappa stresses the importance of training in sericulture. He says, "Hands-on training must be a priority area." The CSB has been training and promoting entrepreneurship in sericulture and silk production, it shares relevant information on technology and knowledge besides skill seeding, upgrading skill sets, and refining various concepts, processes and technologies. Capacity building and training at CSB comprises regular structured courses on entrepreneurship development and other short-term skill and competence enhancement training programmes.

Every year, CSB trains thousands of national and international trainees including farmers, entrepreneurs, departmental officials, students and women. Today, we can see many entrepreneurs in the field of sericulture and silk production. It has helped in generating employment for many.

Women have benefited a great deal from these activities. Their areas of entrepreneurship include mulberry production, silkworm rearing, seed production, reeling, twisting, dyeing, weaving, fashion designing, printing, needlework, computer aided design and others. While CSRTI trains farm-related entrepreneurs, the institute in Bengaluru provides support to entrepreneurs in the post-cocoon sector.

The technologies developed by CSRTII have been recognised and are very popular among sericulturists. In order to disseminate the technological innovations at the grass root level, it has imparted training to various personnel and other stakeholders.  

"The programmes have helped in stimulating and building the confidence of the trainees," says G Srinivasa, senior scientist, National Silk Worm Seed Organisation. Mamatha in Siddlaghatta, Prathima in Anekal taluk, Deepa Ramesh in Muthasandra and H R Vinutha in Varthur are some of the entrepreneurs who are successfully running chawki rearing centres. Deepa Ramesh, says, "Sincerity, dedication, hard work and passion leads to success and women, in no way, are inferior to anyone."

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