The Bangladesh Silk Development Board (BSDB) recently planned a mega project worth Taka 1,000 crore to revitalise the traditional silk sector. It will also re-launch 23 more looms of the now partially functional Rajshahi Silk Factory in the near future, said BSDB director general Abdul Hakim. The factory has remained dysfunctional since 2002.

After a 16-year closure, six looms of the factory were re-launched in July 2018, followed by five more. In this way, 19 looms have, so far, been re-launched as the government has taken initiative to revive the silk industry, according to Bangla media reports.

At least 15 metric tons of silk yarn could be manufactured along with job creation scope for around 10,000 people if we can resume all the 58 looms in the factory, Hakim said.

The target is to produce 100 tonnes of silk yarn annually and extend financial support to around 1,000 silk farmers under social safety net programme, he said.

At present, the BSDB has been implementing three projects involving around Taka 96.83 crore with the main thrust of improving living and livelihood condition of the targeted grassroots people particularly the poor and distressed women through substantial and sustainable development of the traditional silk sector.

The primary objective of a five-year project titled ‘Sericulture Extension and Development’ is to generate employment of around 50,000 poor and landless women to elevate their socio-economic condition by involving them in sericulture.

Another five-year project titled ‘Poverty Reduction in Hilly Chattogram Districts through Extension and Development of Sericulture’ is also being implemented in the hilly districts with focus on freeing around 15,000 extremely poor and landless women from poverty.

Another 15,000 poor and distressed women will get scopes of improving their living and livelihood condition through intervention of another five-year project titled ‘Poverty Reduction in Greater Rangpur districts through Extension of Sericulture’.

Hakim said 620-bigha mulberry grounds will be developed and maintained side by side with production and distribution of 23.5 lakh silk-eggs and 23 lakh mulberry saplings among the farmers through implementation of the projects. Thirty seven ideal silk villages and 500 mulberry blocks will be established side by side with purchasing 43,000-kilogram silk-cocoons from the growers.

There are plans of importing improved cocoon and mulberry plants as well, he added. More than 4,800 farmers will be given input supports of silk-rearing and 6,300 others get necessary assistance of mulberry transplantation.