SILIGURI: Shattered with COVID lockdown and then devastating cyclone Amphan, raw silk trade in West Bengal has started raising voice for the reintroduction of old support schemes. Bengal or Assam are major contributors to total yield of India, the second largest raw silk producing country in the world.
“Silk production involves multi tire and multi-sectoral labour-intensive processes. In one side it is nurturing silkworm from the egg stage to Cocoon, then extracting yarn from the cocoon. On the other side plantation of specific trees for heavy quantity leaves to feed millions of silkworms. All the sectors need to remain in perfect synch in order to produce effective output,” said Ujjal Saha, executive member, Malda Chamber of Commerce. Malda and Murshidabad are Bengal’s main silk producing districts.
“Acute shortage of manpower during lockdown has caused significant damage to millions of growing worms. Over 50% is dead. On the other side, plantations have badly suffered due to lack of maintenance and cyclone. We are apprehending immediate loss of more than 60% downfall in production,” said raw silk farmers. Silk in Assam is also under equally grim situation.
These will cause even bigger spiralling impact with enough potential to ruin the whole industry. We need to revamp all the stages beginning from production of silkworm eggs,” said Saha.
“Under an old support scheme, silkworm egg grower used to receive one time 60% support from centre and 20% from the state to develop own set up. But it has been withdrawn during 2014-15. In place of 165 egg growers in Malda alone, now there are only 65 of them,” said a seed grower Dilip Das. Each grower produces around 4 lakh eggs a year. One hundred matured eggs, weighting 18 grams only, costs around Rs 200-400.
In addition, “Reintroduction of 10% incentive on yarn sale volume is also needed,” demanded Ujjal Saha.
“Bringing back lustre of silk trade is too important as it directly supports over 15 lakh workers in Bengal or Assam,” said Sanjeet Saha, Chairman, CII chapter for northern half of West Bengal.
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