The Central Silk Board (CSB) under the Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a convergence model for implementation of Agro-forestry in the silk sector under the ongoing Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme, in the presence of Union Textiles and Women and Child Development Minister, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani and Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Parshottam Rupala here today. The MoU was signed by Dr. Alka Bhargava, Additional Secretary, DAC&FW and Shri Rajit Ranjan Okhandiar, Member Secretary (Central Silk Board), Ministry of Textiles.  The signing of this MoU aims to incentivize the farmers to take up sericulture based Agroforestry models thereby contributing to Make in India and Make for the World vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This linkage will add another dimension to agroforestry for faster returns to the growers as well as support the production of the range of silks that India is famous for. The Central Silk Board (CSB), Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India will act as a catalyst to promote Agroforestry in the silk sector. The Buniyaad Reeling Machine for Tussar Silk Yarn were also distributed to some of the beneficiaries on the occasion. The beneficiaries also shared their experiences virtually from across the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani said that India will be fully Atmanirbhar in Silk production in the next two years. She said that raw silk production in the country has increased 35% in the last six years. The Minister informed that more than 90 lakh people have got employment in raw silk production.  Addressing  the ‘National level programme on convergence of Agro-Sericulture and eradication of Thigh reeling’ where the MOU was signed, Smt Irani informed that 8000 women thigh reelers were identified for providing Buniyaad machines and 5000 women have already been supported under Silk Samagra Phase I. She said that for remaining 3000 thigh reelers, fund provision has been made in order to eradicate Unhygienic and Obsolete Thigh Reeling Practice from the country.

The minister further stated that this MOU signing will increase the agricultural income from 20 to 30%. Referring to the PPE kits, in which India has become the second largest producer in the world, She said that India has the capability of creating history in Agro-Technical Textiles also. She said farmers income has almost increased to 60% by adopting Agro Technical Textile. She said that consumption of agriculture based technical textile will increase by  involving Krishi Vigyan Kendra in creating awareness about Agro-tech and Technical textiles. She said this will lead the way for creation of new products.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Parshottam Rupala  said that the MOU signing will not only increase the income and production  of farmers but will also remove  the difficulties faced by them. He suggested to link the farmers dealing in silk production with Farmers Produce Organisations (FPO)for increasing their earnings.

Shri U.P. Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles in his address said that these MOUs will increase the quality as well as the production capacity of silk in the country.

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC & FW) is implementing the Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) since 2016-17 as part of the recommendation of the National Agroforestry Policy 2014. India was the first country to have such a comprehensive policy which was launched at the World Agroforestry Congress held in Delhi in February 2014. At present, the scheme is being implemented in 20 States and 2 UTs.

SMAF aims to encourage farmers to plant multi purpose trees together with the agriculture crops for climate resilience and additional source of income to the farmers, as well as enhanced feedstock to inter alia wood based and herbal industry. Hence there is  a concerted effort to include medicinal, fruits, fodder, tree borne oil seeds, lac host etc in addition to the longer rotation timber species. The initiative of formalizing the collaboration in the sericulture sector is especially targeted for augmentation of sericulture host plants e.g. Mulberry, Asan, Arjuna, Som, Soalu, Kesseru, BadaKesseru, Phanat, etc. to be cultivated both as block plantations and border or peripheral plantations on farm lands. Planting sericulture based tree species on farm bunds and rearing silkworms has the potential of creating additional income opportunities to farmers besides their regular source of income from agriculture activities.