Tuesday 8 November 2011

Sericulture in Tripura: Sidelined!

Sericulture in Tripura has long been associated with the people; however, it is still sidelined by the people. Sericulture as a diversification activity is really promising in Tripura due to its soil and climatic condition.
Good soil, monsoonal rainfall along with suitable day length, temperature and relative humidity are favorable for Mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing.
The state Government has realized the potentiality of sericulture in the state but after long drawn people centric approach has not or could not earn the interest of the people. 
The concerned different in their roadmap to popularize the sericulture in fur flung areas had taken several pro-active initiatives by offering financial support and technical know how but sericulture did not take off in desired or expected level.
This is one of the promising activities that small and marginal farmers could have been benefited in their economic prosperity and social dignity with the support from the Government in the pursuit for economic prosperity. Nevertheless, it is not creating buzz in the state.

Approach of the Government for sericulture:

The Government of Tripura through sericulture department having realized the potentiality of sericulture in the state has been pursuing for spread and popularization of sericulture to the farming communities. 
The state Government of Tripura has, in its pursuit, supply Mulberry cutting, Fertilizers and other input costs to the farmers in free of cost. In addition silkworm seeds (Certified),chandrike and chemicals for controlling the disease etc are also provided in free of cost.
One of the primary requirement for silkworm rearing, the house is provided with the monetary support of the sericulture department so that farming communities do not face the initial financial hiccup in sericulture that is silkworms rearing.
The sericulture department has another approach of purchasing the cocoon produced by the farmers to their collection centers in good price. 
This is being done with two objectives; first is, farmers receives affordable price per kilogram of cocoons either dried or green cocoon, second is, since there is no private reeling centers /  entrepreneur in the silk reeling and weaving (minor) so, cocoon produced by the farmers are not subjected to remain as un-sold products thereby loss.

Qualitative approach for quantitave yield:

The Government of Tripura in sericulture department has shipped certified silkworm seeds from Bangluru and West Bengal for providing good quality and high yielding strains of Mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori L. 
In Tripura, in earlier days Nistari, a multivoltine strain of silkworm were used to be brought from West Bengal but now-a-days crossbreed strain of Bivoltine and Multivoltine are reared in the state. Although, Nistari which is highly adaptable but are low yield per 100dfls compare to Bivoltine and cross breed strain. 
Bivoltine which is high yielding compare to cross breed silkworm strain had something been tried in the state but farmers finds its difficult at the maturity stage that is farmers fail to differentiate the spinning stage of matured silkworm which causes loss to the sericulture farmers, but again, Bivoltine breed is quite susceptible to different pathogens compare cross breed strain of silk worm. 
Therefore, in Tripura, whatever may be position in terms of production of cocoon and silk, cross breed has fairly been popularized and adapted too.
In Tripura, silkworm seed production has been started few years ago through the trained and qualified professional. Now, dependency for certified silkworm seeds (eggs) from other state like Karnataka has come down to a certain level.

Feed back from the farming communities:

Well, farmers have been selected; training and teaching in the matter of sericulture have also been given before actual implementation of the program.
Now, the selection of land; no big farmers or farmers with big land holding have come forward or they might not have been selected for the program because of criteria of the particular scheme. Finally, small and marginalized farmers had been selected, fine.
But, size of land chosen for the Mulberry cultivation is really surprising; it is very small, fragmented, sloppy, highland which were till recently kept as fallow by the farmers. O.K. let us assume that this is also fine.
Now, starts the actual implementation, silkworm rearing house constructed, Mulberry cuttings planted and all the required items supplied for rearing of first batch of silkworm during autumn season but Mulberry growth is not satisfactory, quantities of leaves available in the field is not sufficient for rearing even 50 dfls however, silkworm seeds(eggs) arrived, hatched and started rearing. 
Farmer reaps the first harvest within one month, very enthusiastic, all cocoons taken to the collection centers and sold. Profit is gross returns rupees two thousand in Indian currency. Farmers in dejected mode, however, let it continue for next phase; no incremental income. 
Finally loss of interest which first manifested by not taking care of mulberry plantation or field, Mulberry plants loss the fight with natural weeds so finally stops the whole hungama of sericulture.
This is how the most promising and profitable sericulture has been valued by the farming communities and people of the state. The question is; do the people know the potentiality of the sericulture? Don’t they know that sericulture activities could be year long activities? Are they not informed that silkworms could be reared 3-4 times a year that any agricultural crops can do?

How to sustain the sericulture growth in the state?

Well, the first approach of sericulture of expansion that I here is “sericulture activities could taken up in fallow or vacant or un-utilized land” This is the approach that I feel create some kinds of backtracking to the farming communities. 
It should well be passed on to the farming communities that Mulberry cultivation nicely fits even in your highland and fertile land. Big farmers should also be encouraged, as I said big farmers’ participation in the sericulture activities is very meager and it is equivalent to zero.
Now, no big farmers are interested in the sericulture, what they feel is; it is for marginalized farmers who do not have suitable land for agricultural crops. This mind set should change. The Government although have done enough to attract the small and marginalized farmers should explore the idea with well to do farmers too.
Unless, there is mass movement and exemplary result by anyone, people who are connected with may not gets the real life sharing inspiration. Sericulture is one such area which can create several steps of linkage in employment generation especially in rural areas.
Let us explore the sericulture for improving the rural economy.

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