Introduction About Silk Production

Silk is the strongest natural textile in the world. This textile was recently surpassed in strength by a lab-engineered biomaterial, but it remains the strongest fabric made by natural processes. Despite its great tensile strength, silk is often valued for other purposes.

Silk’s softness has made it a sought-after commodity throughout history, and this simple fiber has built famous trade routes and changed cultures across the ancient world. Composed of natural protein fibers, silk is mainly composed of fibroin, which is a protein secreted by some types of insect larvae to make cocoons. While other insects also produce silk-like substances, most of the world’s silk comes from the larvae of Bombyx mori, which is a worm that lives only on the mulberry tree.

Under certain lighting conditions, silk creates a shimmering optical effect, due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk thread. These prisms reflect light in different directions, creating the subtle red and rainbow colors that made silk so famous. In the past, humans harvested wild silk to make coarse cloth. Although silkworms spin wild silk in parts of China, India and Europe, wild silk is not available in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of textile production on a large scale.

Growing domestic silk from China. One piece of evidence suggests that silk fabrics were used in China as far back as 6500 BC, and the ancient Chinese actually used silk as early as 3600 BC. Although historical records of the beginnings of silk production in China are scarce, Chinese legends credit Empress Leizu with developing sericulture, which is the art of making silk.

In the early days of Chinese culture, only the elite wore silk, but as the Chinese civilization developed and prospered, ordinary people also began to wear this soft and durable fabric. Silk production in China later became an important pre-industrial trade. The Silk Road stretched from China to Western Europe, and Chinese merchants used this trade route to exchange goods from distant lands for silk.

For many generations, the secret of sericulture was the most precious knowledge and protection of the Chinese authorities, but finally, information about the production of good silk spread to Korea and India in the first century of our era. India, Thailand and other Asian countries already have successful sericulture systems at this time, but the Chinese silk system is considered superior.

Based on limited legends and historical records, silk may have been produced in the West in the past. Either way, silk was highly prized by Westerners during Roman times, and the popularity of this rare and mysterious material only increased in antiquity. By the 11th century AD, silk production was widespread in Europe.

Many Italian states, such as Lucca, Venice and Florence, depended economically on silk production during the Middle Ages, and the silk industry gradually spread to France and Spain.

King James I introduced silk production to the New World in the 17th century, and American states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts became centers of silk production. World War II deprived America of Asian silk, so American companies developed synthetic materials such as nylon.

How does a silkworm make Silk

The body of an adult silkworm ready for pupation is filled with liquid silk. Liquid silk is produced from dissolved mulberry leaves and is a protein, just like our hair. The caterpillar uses a special salivary gland on its head to convert this liquid into silk.

The silkworm has two modified salivary glands on its underside called sericteria. These silk producers secrete a pure liquid that hardens into beautiful silk fibers when exposed to air.

Silk Production

This fluid is mostly made up of a type of protein called fibroin. The same glands can release two proteins at the same time; a gummy substance called sericin. Sericin proteins coat the fibroin protein, forming a kind of glue. Because of this coating, the two silk threads of the two glands can be joined together.

By using its silk glands, the silkworm will continue to weave its silk until all the liquid silk in its body has been used. The caterpillar will swing its head as it spins to make sure the silk thread is completely wrapped around it. It does this by instinct to protect itself from predators during pupation.

It takes about 3 days for a silkworm at a speed of about 30 to 40 centimeters of silk per minute to complete its cocoon. The end result will be a coconut made from a single thread of silk that is 1600 meters long.

Production in India

India is the second largest producer of raw silk in the world after China. This country has the distinction of being the only country that produces five different types of silk in the world. Mulberry silk is produced mainly in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and non-mulberry varieties (Vanya silk) like Tussar are produced in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. Moga silk is specific to the state of Assam and Eri silk is grown in Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Mulberry silk is nearly 70% of the total silk produced in India, with Karnataka leading the production of mulberry silk. Recognizing the huge employment potential emerging from the silk industry’s value chain, which can put the country in a position of economic growth, the Government of India has established the Central Silk Board (CSB) shortly after the country’s independence. self, and its process. of Strategies.

With the low capital required and the type of wages of production from the countryside to the farm and agriculture, and the growing culture that connects the domestic market, the silk industry is the key to social and economic development. of large farmers, providing 9.4 million jobs. those in rural and semi-urban areas.

Unlike seasonal crops, sericulture can be practiced throughout the year and yield up to 5-6 times a year. With the price of beautiful cocoons at $550 per kilogram these days, silk farmers are getting more income than any other cash crop. About 35,820 tons of raw silk was produced in 2019-2020, which fell by almost 30% during the epidemic.

Although part of the demand for raw silk is met through imports, a large part of the income from silk exports comes from silk garments, silk carpets and silk waste, which amounted to 1,466 crore in 2020 -2021.

The company which has received grant funds from various agencies like Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Textiles and programs like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and Seri-forestry has provided livelihood to farmers.

sustainable life especially women from the village. in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar by 36,000 jobs. About 36,154 farmers, including 2,497 women, received assistance to plant 1,521 hectares of Tussar in barren land. Under the special project, 14,227 seed growers are producing 2,240 lakh of coconuts. The expansion of this program under the rural livelihood project will include 35,000 women.

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