Production Report of Silk Fiber in the World

Production Report of Silk Fiber

Rakibul Islam Khan
Department of Textile Engineering
Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology (AUST)

Production of Silk Fiber:
Asia is the main producer of silk in the world and produces over 95 per cent of the total global output. Though there are over 40 countries on the world map of silk, bulk of it is produced in China and India followed by Japan, Brazil & Korea. China is the leading supplier of silk to the world with an annual production of 153942 MT (2006). India is the second largest producer of silk with 18475 MT (2006-07) and also the largest consumer of silk in the world.

For most silk producing countries, silk production is non-mechanized and family based. Production increases are therefore slow. Thailand and India fabrics are woven on hand looms, however power looms are increasing in India. Almost, all silk weaving is done on power looms in Vietnam, Brazil and Korea.

Silk has a miniscule percentage of the global textile fibre market—less than 0.2%. This figure, however, is misleading, since the actual trading value of silk and silk products is much more impressive. Silk is a multibillion-dollar trade; with a unit price for raw silk roughly twenty times that of raw cotton.

Worldwide silk production totals about a hundred thousand tones while the other natural fibres (cotton, wool) and synthetic fibres (nylon etc.) total in the tens of millions of tones. Being a natural product and relatively rare enables silk to maintain its value, however it must also have characteristics that create a demand. Any synthetic fibre has not duplicated the characteristics of these, but even if they are in the future, the natural product will remain in demand while there is consumer preference for natural over synthetic.

Though silk production is only about 0.2% of the total textile fibre production in the world, the production of silk together with other natural fibres doubled in the 20 years from 1975 to 1995, the production of synthetic fibres increased three fold.

Table: World silk production in comparison with other textile fibres (Thousand tons)

Bangladesh has no position in the world silk market as it produces only 40 MT of raw silk per year. Interestingly the production of raw silk remains more or less same over the years. The low amount of raw silk production may be attributed to scattered small scale farming of mulberry plantation and silkworm rearing. Due to small amount of cocoon production in different places no reeling industry has yet been established in the country.

Figure: Increment of silk production from year 1975 to 2010.
Only a few reeling units have so far been in operation in some places most of which are not fit for good quality raw silk production. As such the silk industries, mostly located in Rajshahi, have to depend on imported raw silk for fabric production. The extension activities of sericulture in Bangladesh are conducted at small-scale level, which is limited only with the landless and marginal farmers. It is mainly based on tree mulberry leaves except for Bholahat area under Chapai-nawabganj district where bush mulberry is cultivated for silkworm rearing. Most of the reapers of Bangladesh are landless poor and have no separate silkworm rearing houses of their own and as such they have to rear the silkworms in their dwelling houses where hygienic environment cannot be maintained for successful cocoon crop production. As a result sometimes silkworm diseases occur and cocoon production is greatly hampered.

Whenever Bangladesh Sericulture Board (BSB) gets fund through development projects they provide mulberry saplings to the farmers for plantation in the road and embankment sides. They also provide silkworm eggs to those farmers when planted mulberry trees become productive. But when the project period is over the extension activities are greatly hampered due to fund constrained as the next project sometimes gets approval after 2 -3 years. Again they have to start with new plantation of mulberry.

BSB has so far implemented 16 development projects during the period of 33 years since its inception in 1978. But it could not able to increase a tangible amount of raw silk production in the country. This is mainly due to lack of proper extension policy and cocoon production planning. The sericulture projects implemented by BSB were more or less similar and routine in nature, which did not help develop sericulture in the country.

To meet the local demand we have to produce about 300 MT of raw silk per year. BSB should continue the program without any interval to meet the remaining demand of raw silk. BSB need to develop Package of sericulture practices for small, medium and large scale farming with the technical assistance of Bangladesh Sericulture Research and Training Institute (BSRTI). Then draw attention to the interested farmers and enterprises for implementation of the programs.

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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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