The government-owned Central Silk Board (CSB), the apex body of the Indian silk industry, has taken major drive to promote eri silk in north and non-traditional southern parts of the country.
The CSB has been encouraging establishment of spun silk mills in the private sector under the Catalytic Development Programme (CDP) to covert eri cocoons into mill spun yarn, a CSB official told FE. While one unit has already been set up at Hindupur in Andhra Pradesh, two more units are coming up in the north-east, the first one of which has been commissioned recently at Kokrajhar in Assam with the technical and financial assistance from the CSB and the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) of Assam.
This mill is equipped with 840 spindles and has facilities to produce 30,000 kg of international grade eri spun yarn by consuming about 70,000 kg of eri cocoons. The mill, which has been promoted by a private firm, Indi Luo Enterprise, has been set up with an outlay of Rs 30 crore. Of that, the CSB offered Rs 11.25 crore, while BTC provided Rs 25 lakh towards purchase of machineries and establishment of infrastructure. In addition, BTC has offered an additional grant of Rs 30 lakh for further development. Another such mill will come up in Guwahati in the near future, the CSB sources said.
Eri, known much for its delicious and nutritious pupa in the north-eastern part of the country, enjoys unique characteristics like thermal properties, extra softness and aristocratic finish.
Although three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh account for more than 80% of the total silk production in India, they produce only mulberry silk. The eri silk culture is primarily prevalent in Assam and some parts of Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. Now to ensure regular employment and income for rural mass, the CSB has taken steps to promote sericulture across the country.
As a result of the CSB efforts, production of eri raw silk has increased to 2,038 tonne in 2008-09 from 1,485 tonne in 2006-07. Of the total 2,038 tonne, more than 95% of eri spun silk was produced in north-eastern states with farmers in the Bodo Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) contributing 25-30%. Currently, 37,911 families are engaged in sericulture in 2,542 villages in the BTAD region.
The CSB official said the eri spun silk yarn had a great demand in the international market, primarily in production