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A silken touch to healing
Dec 01, 2016

Why in news:

A Bengaluru-based company has developed a silk protein-derived product which can be used in place of the traditional dressing for wounds.

What is the technique:

  • The dressing is produced from cut cocoons after the silkworm has left the cocoon, and so is a cleaner alternative to collagen dressings, currently the only form of dressing other than skin grafts, which actively help in healing of wounds.
  • Traditionally, cocoons are boiled in hot water to help separate the thread, killing the silkworm inside. 

The product Fibroheal:

  • It was developed by Sericare, a division of Health Line Private Limited. 
  • It uses silk protein to enhance wound healing. 
  • Unlike conventional gauze, the dressing simulates cell growth due to the properties of silk.

Potential to revive Silk Industry:

  • If silk protein derivatives gain in popularity, this could bring good tidings to sericulture farmers.
  • The price of the dressing ranges from Rs.90 for a 5x5 sq. cm piece to Rs.1,000 for the largest size.

Silk in India:

Silk is a high value but low volume product accounting for only 0.2 % of world's total textile production. Silk production is regarded as an important tool for economic development of a country as it is a labour intensive and high income generating industry that churns out value added products of economic importance. 

  • India is the second largest producer of silk and also the largest consumer of silk in the world. 
  • It has a strong tradition and culture bound domestic market of silk. 

Silk Varieties:

There are five major types of silk of commercial importance, obtained from different species of silkworms which in turn feed on a number of food plants. These are:

  • Mulberry
  • Oak Tasar& Tropical Tasar
  • Muga
  • Eri

Except mulberry, other non-mulberry varieties of silks are generally termed as vanya silks. India has the unique distinction of producing all these commercial varieties of silk.

World wide distribution:

Geographically, Asia is the main producer of silk in the world and produces over 95 % of the total global output. Though there are over 40 countries on the world map of silk, bulk of it is produced in China and India, followed by Japan, Brazil and Korea. China is the leading supplier of silk to the world.

Silk Producing Region in India:

  • In India, mulberry silk is produced mainly in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu& Kashmir and West Benga.
  • The non-mulberry silks are produced in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa and north-eastern states.  


Importance of Silk industry (Sericulture)

In India, sericulture is not only a tradition but also a living culture. It is a farm-based, labour intensive and commercially attractive economic activity falling under the cottage and small-scale sector. It particularly suits rural-based farmers, entrepreneurs and artisans, as it requires low investment but, with potential for relatively higher returns. It provides income and employment to the rural poor especially farmers with small land-holdings and the marginalized and weaker sections of the society. Several socio-economic studies have affirmed that the benefit-cost ratio in sericulture is highest among comparable agricultural crops 

Employment potential:

  • 60 lakh persons are engaged in various sericulture activities in the country
  • It is estimated that Sericulture can generate employment @ 11 man days per kg of raw silk production (in on-farm and off-farm activities) throughout the year. This potential is par-excellence and no other industry generates this kind of employment, specially in rural areas, hence, sericulture is used as a tool for rural reconstruction.
  • Role in Women Empowerment:
  • Women constitute over 60 % of those employed in down-stream activities of sericulture in the country.  This is possible because sericulture activities starting from mulberry garden management, leaf harvesting and silkworm rearing is more effectively taken up by the women folk. Even silk reeling industry including weaving is largely supported by them.

Inclusive development:

  • Sericulture can be practiced even with very low land holding.
  • Acre of mulberry garden and silkworm rearing can support a family of three without hiring labour.
  • Features such as low gestation, high returns make sericulture an ideal programme for weaker sections of the society.
  • Vast tracts of forest based tasar food plantations available in the country, if judiciously exploited for rearing tasar silkworms, can offer supplementary gainful employment for tribals.


  • As a perennial crop with good foliage and root-spread, mulberry contributes to soil conservation and provides green cover.
  • Waste from silkworm rearing can be recycled as inputs to garden.
  • Dried mulberry twigs and branches are used as fuel in place of firewood and therefore reduce the pressure on vegetation/forest.
  • Being a labour intensive and predominantly agro-based activity, involvement of smoke-emitting machinery is minimal.
  • Developmental programmes initiated for mulberry plantation are mainly in upland areas where un-used cultivable land is made productive.
  • Mulberry can also be cultivated as intercrop with numerous plantations.
  • Mulberry being a deep-rooted perennial plant can be raised in vacant lands, hill slopes and watershed areas.
  • Currently, only about 0.1 % of the arable land in the country is under mulberry cultivation.

High return activity to farmer:

  • Estimated investments of Rs.12,000 to 15,000 (excluding cost of land and rearing space) is sufficient for undertaking mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing in one acre of irrigated land.
  • Mulberry takes only six months to grow for commencement of silkworm rearing. Mulberry once planted will go on supporting silkworm rearing year after year for 15-20 years depending on inputs and management provided.
  • Five crops can be taken in one year under tropical conditions.
  • By adopting stipulated package of practices, a farmer can attain net income levels up to Rs.30000 per acre per annum.

Challenge of Sericulture Industry in India

  • IMPROVING QUALITY OF SILK: Indian silk yarn is of poor quality, especially in comparison to that of China. This not only affects our competitiveness in the world market, it also results in a preference for imported yarn in the domestic sector. There has been lack of sufficient thrust on the adoption of improved technologies, strict disease control measures, lack of quality leaf due to insufficient inputs to mulberry garden, use of young age silkworms, appropriate mountages, lack of grading system for cocoons, and quality-based pricing system.
  • Fall in Production: There has been a decline in the cultivated area and the raw silk production during 2002–04 due to drought and dumping of Chinese silk at cheap prices
  • No incentive to shift towards Biovoltine: Bivoltine yarn is sturdier and is used by the powerloom industry. Yet only 5% of the silk produced in India is bivoltine because its production requires much more attention and resources. It also yields just two crops in a year, as against the yield of four to six crops by multi-voltine. Since the difference in the selling price of bivoltine and multivoltine silk is not much, farmers do not have any incentive to switch to bivoltine silk yarn production. 
  • Insufficient adoption and proliferation of technology packages developed through R&D efforts; no effort to increase the area under mulberry; fragmented and ad hoc approach; non-involvement of private partners in a big way in seed production; farming and reeling; non-penetration of the schemes; improper forward and backward linkages; and dumping of cheap Chinese raw silk and fabric are the other factors. 

SWOT ANALYSIS of Indian Silk Industry:



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