Montu Ali, 56, a silk farmer, is now happy with his family members over cocoon production and its market price this season after a long gap.
A resident of Zadunagar village under Bholahar upazila, he sold cocoon valued at Taka 14,000 after cultivating mulberry plants on around two bigha of land.
Montu, who is involved in the mulberry farming and cocoon production activities for more than 35 years, said he took 150 silk eggs from the local silk extension office free of cost and got three mounds of cocoons from the eggs.
More than 350 farmers cultivated mulberry on 217 bigha of lands only in the Bholahat upazila this season and produced cocoon after the best uses of the government support. Most of them are happy with their sale-proceeds.
He said the traditional silk sector has started getting back its lost glory in the region due to adoption of need-based and time-fitting measures creating high hope among the peoples concerned.
Masud Reza, Assistant Director of Bholahat Silk Extension Office under Bangladesh Silk Development Board (BSDB), said each of the farmers was given financial support of Taka 3,000 for silk farming purposes while Taka 30,000 for building silk house.
BSDB has started elevating both the farming and industrial sides of the silk sector for its revival. Field level promotional activities of sericulture are progressing with the aim of bringing back its lost glory through revitalising the sector.
It has planted mulberry trees and taking security measures for the trees. All the stakes concerned especially the mulberry farmers are hoping of getting back their good days in silk farming.
“Mulberry trees need trimming four times a year,” said Alauddin Mandal, Upazila Silk Extension Officer. The leaves come out within 56 days after trimming.
He said the silkworms kept inside houses for certain period eat mulberry leaves. After around 40 days, the worms start to form cocoons — by spitting out saliva around their bodies — which are then placed in bamboo frames before being harvested.
The threads become strong when they come in contact with air. Afterwards, the cocoons are then boiled in hot water, killing the worm inside and separating the ultra-thin threads, which are coiled on huge bobbins and hung out to dry.
Later, the silk thread is processed and the dried threads are sent to a mill where workers join several threads together and put them onto looms to make cloth.
This material is then boiled, washed and waxed before being sent to tailors to make mostly sarees, three pieces and panjabi.
Mandal added that some areas of Charghat and Bagha upazilas in Rajshahi and Bholahat upazila in Chapainawabgonj districts are very much popular for mulberry production.
BSDB provides all kinds of supports to the silk farmers. About 5,000 mulberry trees were planted in five blocks of Mohanpur under Poba Circle. At least 22 houses have been built officially for the silk farmers in the circle.
Director General of BSDB Abdul Hakim said the government has taken initiative to revive the silk industry. Market promotion works are also being progressed. “We have already received order of supplying sarees for 300 airhosts,” he added.
The sericulture and silk industry, by its nature, is a family based labour-intensive economic activity that provides employment for the rural people.
Abdul Hakim said initiative has been taken to re-launch the Rajshahi and Thakurgaon Silk Factories fully.
Five in Rajshahi Silk Factory has already been resumed. At least 15 metric tonnes of silk yearn could be manufactured along with job creation scope for around 10,000 people if we can resume all the 58 looms in the two state-owned factories, he added.
“Sericulture has a huge prospect if we could nurture it properly as there is a huge potential export market for our silk,” he said.
Hakim, however, said BSDB has a plan of bringing Chinese experts to train the local farmers that will help boosting silk production.