Sericulture is one of India’s and Asia’s oldest sectors. Sericulture is a labour-intensive and commercially desirable agro-cottage, a forest-based industry that falls under the cottage and small-scale market. The end product of this industry is silk. It is particularly well suited to rural residents employed in agriculture, entrepreneurs, and artisans because it needs minimal investment.
It provides income and jobs to the rural poor, especially small-scale farmers and other vulnerable and poorer members of society. Kashmir produces Mulberry and Tasar silk in a non-traditional sericulture state. The growth of bivoltine sericulture has been a priority sector of the Indian silk industry, but progress has yet to reach the targets. One of them is sericulture.
In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, sericulture holds a special place. This is India’s only conventional Univoltine belt capable of processing silk with qualities equal to the finest imported raw silk of standard quality available on foreign markets. Silkworm rearing offers part-time jobs to around 30,000 households, in addition to providing permanent employment to 5,000 people in the public sector. Furthermore, the silk industry employs about 10,000 full-time weavers in about 2,000 private sector units in the valley. As a result, almost 2.15 million workers are employed in this sector, either full-time or part-time. Until 1988, the silk industry was a state monopoly, and farmers received no revenue from the selling of cocoons at the government-set floor price. It was given much thought as to how to reclaim its former glory. The market was de-monopolized, and plant control was passed to farmers with permission to sell surplus leaves and earn money.
The Indian silk industry is one of the largest generators of employment and foreign exchange for the country as sericulture activities spread across 52,360 villages. India enjoys a unique global position in terms of the production of all commercially useful varieties of silk. India is the second-largest producer of silk. Sericulture provided employment to over 9.1 million people in India during FY19.
The Exports of silk and silk products from India reached US$ 291.36 million in 2018-19 and US$ 243.52 million in FY20 (till December 2019). Source: CSB Banglore.
Status of Indian Sericulture Industry
|Raw Silk Production||35,468 MT|
|Size of the Industry||Rs 15,000 crores|
|Credit Flow||Rs 500 Crores|
|Export Earnings||Rs. 2100 crores|
|Raw Silk Imports||3712 MT (Rs.1200 crores)|
- Rich natural resources & favourable climate
- Traditional avocation (way of life), rich design
- Strong domestic demand-pull
- Rich heritage of handloom weaving & designs
- Produces all five commercial varieties of silk
- Adequate domestic demand for output
- Low investment & moderate returns
- High labour cost of silk production in other
- Nations give India a good opportunity
- The sector is a huge employment provider
- Availability of efficient m/c & technologies
- Highly unorganized & labour-intensive sector
- Small producers and small converters
- Primitive/traditional methods/technologies
- Outdated machinery.
- Age-old designs & motifs
- Fluctuating international silk prices
- China- the ‘big brother’ is always a threat
- Inadequate resources at states’ disposal
- Heavy dependence on a single product
- Low capabilities of primary producers
- Fluctuating market demand – recession
Entrepreneurship is a mindset that involves taking calculated chances and confidence in order to achieve a specific aim. It’s a hybrid ability that combines a number of strengths and characteristics. An entrepreneur is someone that has the drive to do or manufacture something unique, organizes production, takes chances, and handles the economic insecurity that comes with owning a company. The collection of such attributes the entrepreneur possesses is called entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship in Sericulture
Sericulture is the discipline and practice of silk production. Agriculture and associated farm operations have traditionally been important to the Indian economy. Sericulture, as an agro-based company, has a major impact on rural people’s economic prospects.
It has the potential to generate jobs, especially in rural areas. Sericulture is a multifaceted industry that includes food plant cultivation (mulberry leaf processing), silkworm rearing (cocoon production), silkworm egg production, silk reeling (yarn production), spinning, warp and weft production, printing and dyeing, weaving (fabric production), finishing, textile design, and marketing etc. The industry encompasses a wide range of on-farm and non-farm activities, necessitating a wide range of expertise, as well as a varied population of people, and bringing people from all walks of life together to work on silk processing. Sericulture is a year-round activity with a variety of career openings. Sericulture is a low-cost, high-yielding crop that produces five to six crops per year. With minimum upkeep, the mulberry plantation will yield reliably for the next 15-20 years. India currently earns over Rs 4,000 crores from the sale of silk fabrics, waste, and garments. Aside from high export potential, silk has a strong domestic demand and a strong handloom base combined with artisan abilities, which is India’s true strength of the Indian sericulture industry.
Sericulture has a significant socioeconomic effect and has the potential to change people’s lives by creating viable and long-term job opportunities. Since it entails a variety of methods, from mulberry plantation to silkworm rearing, spinning, spinning, and selling, it employs a vast number of people, including women. Sericulture has the potential to offer gainful jobs to more than 15 Lac citizens in the state if it is encouraged on a larger scale through value addition.
The various entrepreneurial opportunities in the sericulture industry starting from leaf to fabric production are hereunder discussed:
Raising high-yielding mulberry saplings, silkworm egg preparation and supply, Chawki rearing (young age silkworm rearing), cocoon processing, silk reeling, Zari manufacturing, sericulture byproduct recycling, cocoon and silk-based handicrafts, the silk trade, cocoon crafting and Pet Food, Protein diet foods, and so on.
It is clear that the sericulture industry provides outstanding job prospects as well as a variety of entrepreneurship opportunities. Sericulture, as an agro-based company, plays a significant role in determining the economic fate of rural people and fits well into India’s rural system, where agriculture remains the primary occupation. Sericulture provides job opportunities not only for rural residents but also for skilled youth in semiurban and urban areas. Sericulture development would undoubtedly result in a thriving rural by providing income-generating entrepreneurship opportunities, thus reducing poverty and halting rural-to-urban migration.
Suggestions for boosting the Entrepreneurship in Sericulture:
- Up gradation of Departmental Nurseries/ farms to improve Mulberry saplings /leaf production
- Cocoon and Silk yarn marketing support system to the local Reelers.
- Enhancement in Cocoon Bank Revolving fund
- Infrastructure development at Farmers’ level
- Popularizing Multi cropping and green marketing
- Incentive on cocoon and silk production to farmers/reelers
- Infrastructure development/up-gradation support
- Introduction of cocoon crop insurance scheme
- Development of Integrated Silk parks.
- Silk Branding push.
- Private Sector Involvement.
- R&D from Research Institutes with Skill developments through capacity buildings.
Encouraging the young talent to take up entrepreneurship as a career (Seri-Business)
To inspire young people to engage in entrepreneurship ventures, a variety of methods have been used. Many young people today have business ideas, but only a small percentage of them have the capacity and opportunity to transform such ideas into profitable enterprises. The ability of youth to transform their inventions into businesses is critical to the future of small business start-ups. The ability to recognize an advantage and put it to use is largely dependent on the youth’s willingness to engage in such entrepreneurial practices. Participation in entrepreneurial educational programs has a strong impact on the desire to launch a new company.
To make the dream business a reality, youths need inspiration from all stakeholders, including the government, lecturers, families, friends, and religious groups, either by funding or other support mechanisms. As a result, many young people who are willing to take the risk of starting a new business are concerned about access to resources such as funding and inspiration.
Starting a Seri-Business Startup
The phases of starting a profitable company begin with identifying the motivations or commitments for starting one. After acquiring such motives, the next step is to discover a viable idea. This idea must be attractive and validated on whether it can meet customer needs. The next step is to look for the necessary resources required such as materials, source of funding and quality suppliers. The final part is to apply the plan by getting into full business and then build a professional network to sustain the venture. This model is divided into four basic success components. These factors are idea and market, motivation and determination, resources and ability.
Entreprenurship activities Framework Model
Kashmir’s only rabbit farm seeks to popularise cuniculture among valleyities
Wussan, Baramulla: To popularise rabbit farming for augmenting meat and fur production and providing a healthy alternative to mutton for voracious meat-eaters of Kashmir, the J&K Government established Angora Rabbit Farm in 1979 at the Wussan village of Baramulla district.
Though, the rabbit meat has failed to satiate the taste buds of Kashmiri people as the project did not witness much commercial success. However, due to the recent rising trend of pet keeping in Kashmir, the farm has become a centre of attraction. Rabbit rearing has become the most popular hobby among pet lovers, particularly children, and teenagers.
Run by the Sheep Husbandry Department, the only rabbit breeding farm of Kashmir and probably the biggest in North India sprawls on six hectares of land. About 30 km from Srinagar, the Angora Rabbit Farm is home to several rabbit varieties and breeds imported from different countries. Even new species are regularly brought in either from foreign or from various states of the country.
Presently, seven rabbit species breed in the Angora Rabbit Farm: Californian White, New Zealand White, Angora German, Angora French, Grey Giant, Black Brown and Soviet Chinchilla. Different breeds have different qualities. While the Angora is considered a well-known breed for fur and wool, Grey Giant and others are best known for providing quality meat. Similarly, people prefer to buy the Russian Chinchilla and German Angora for keeping them as pets.
Around 1800-2000 rabbits rear in five sheds of the farm at Wussan. Presently there are 1200 rabbits, both kits and adults, on the farm. These rabbits are available on sale around the year. However, during the winter, the number goes down to 500-600. As the breeding stops during the winter season due to extreme cold.
“During the winters, a rabbit needs extra care, which is also the reason that less number keeps for December, January and February, the harshest three months. The breeding commences again in March when the weather improves,” says Dr Sheikh Ishrat Mahmood, who works as an Assistant Director with the Sheep Husbandry Department and is the present caretaker of the farm.
According to the official website of the Sheep Husbandry Department, the farm was started with the 60 New Zealand White rabbits purchased from Gharsa, Himachal Pradesh. The aim was to popularise the consumption of rabbit meat as a substitute for sheep and goat meat among the general masses and create a new avenue of employment for the youth. While the rabbit meat evinced week response among the public, high demand for rabbit wool and fur could not generate much enthusiasm among the entrepreneurs for establishing their private units. This limited the scope of the farm.
At present, rabbits in Kashmir have only three uses. Youngsters rear them as pets, researchers use them as guinea pigs, and some people with cardiac problems eat them as rabbit meat is considered lean and white with high nutritious value.
However, in recent years rearing them as pets have become very popular across Kashmir. While the cute and fluffy rabbits are liked by one and all, in the traditional homes, they have much more acceptability as compared to dogs and cats, who are mostly considered unclean animals.
“Besides slaughter purpose, we sell rabbits to pet shop owners, as well as, researchers from GMC and SKUAST-K, who try vaccines and drugs on them,” says Dr Ishrat.
Last year the farm revenue from the rabbit sales was Rs 6 lakh. According to the farm officials, the sale figure has grown considerably. “Though from last few years, rabbit rearing as pets is gaining popularity across Kashmir, but we want more and more people to know about the farm,” says Dr Ishrat.
“Rabbit farming is very profitable, and one enjoys doing it. It is a great business idea with huge employment generation potential. Only thing is that we need to create more and more awareness,” he says.
A research scholar of livestock production and management from NDRA, Dr Ishfaq Jamal, writes that there is tremendous scope for poverty alleviation and improving the living standards of small and marginal farmers through the profitable enterprise of cuniculture.
Cuniculture is the agricultural practise of breeding and raising domestic rabbits as livestock for their meat, fur, wool or pelt. “Rabbit fanciers and hobbyists also employ cuniculture for the development and betterment of rabbit breeds and the exhibition of their efforts. Scientists practice cuniculture in the use and management of rabbits as model organisms in research. Cuniculture has been practised all over the world since at least the 5th century.”
According to Dr Ishfaq, there is immense scope for rabbit farming in Kashmir, as the climatic conditions of J&K and Himachal Pradesh are almost similar. The government of HP has promoted rabbit farming along with sheep farming and obtained good results in hilly areas, he writes.
“If properly planned and promoted, rabbit farming can turn into a multi-crore industry soon. There is a need of a proper policy framework, planning as well as collaboration between the Departments of Animal and Sheep Husbandry, agricultural universities and related institutions for framing a composite policy to promote rabbit farming,” says Dr Ishfaq in a newspaper column.
Feeding and rearing of rabbits at Wussan Farm
When it comes to the feeding of rabbits at the Wussan Farm, proper care is taken. The rabbits are fed with nutritious food such as greens, turnips, carrots, cabbage leaves. Rabbits drink clean drinking water twice a day. The feeding items are different for the winter and summer seasons. In the summer season, only greens are given to rabbits, while in the winter season, chopped vegetables are provided as well. Most of the food items are grown within the farm area itself such as radish and carrots. Rabbits are also fed with pellets in addition to greens and vegetables. Kits are fed half of what adults are given.
“We have an agriculture farm here as well where we grow fodder for rabbits,” says Dr Irfan Magray, the farm manager and veterinary doctor.
Random eating is avoided for the proper growth and good health of the rabbit.
Rabbits are reared mainly for three purposes – domestication as pets, research models (guinea pigs) and consumption.
“Rabbits can produce many kits at a time unlike other animals, which is what makes it very good economically,” says Dr Irfan Magray.
Rabbit is known for its fast multiplication, short gestation period of about 32 days and a litter size of about 6-8. So out of a small unit one can have 4-5 crops annually, so from a small unit, one can get hundreds of kindlings per year. Also, its constant state of reproduction, rapid growth and early maturity adds to its high biological potential.
“We usually keep the parental stock with us and give the kits,” he adds.
Young single rabbits are sold within the price range from ₹200 – ₹800, depends upon the breed, where Grey Giant, Black Brown, Soviet Chinchilla costs ₹200 per rabbit and New Zealand White, California White sells for ₹300 per rabbit whereas Angora breed is sold at ₹500 per piece. The pair is sold from 1000 or above.
Rabbits are sold to customers which in turn start their venture at a smaller level for rearing purposes. “I visit the farm often and take rabbits for my venture,” says Gulam Nabi Sofi from Khaag, Budgam. “For a pet lover, this is the best place to visit,” he adds.
“The farm has different breeds and I had taken many rabbits from them, I keep rabbits as pets,” says another customer from Srinagar. “The farm has maintained all sort of hygiene practices and every staff member is cooperative,” he further says.
“The best sellers among the rabbits have always been Angora rabbits, as they are famous for their wool, which is considered second best after pashmina,” says Dr Ishrat.
The life expectancy of a rabbit is 5-6 years. “The mortality rate of the rabbits has come down from 10-12% to 4.5% since last three years,” he adds.
Around 18 employees are working on the farm: 10 technical staff and eight helpers. Each one of them is strictly looking at the management of the farm and rabbit farming.
“This farm is only of its kind in the whole J&K,” says Dr Ishrat.
Talking about the plan ahead, Dr Ishrat says now they want to open units of the farm at various parts to avoid third-party interface. “We have sent a request to the higher authority to open up the farm units at different places where we have high acceptability of the rabbits,” says Dr Ishrat.
In addition to this, the rabbit farm intends to do training programmes and attract more youth towards rabbit farming. The farm display, its stall at Kisan Melas as well. “We can also help the\youth by giving them employment and also technical know-how free of cost,” says Dr Ishrat.
“The rabbit farming has a great scope in the Valley but awareness is needed, we do as much publicity as we can.”
“The funds the farm gets are not sufficient for infrastructure,” Dr Ishrat. “We want to attract more customers, but we lack funds,” he adds.
The medical supervision of the rabbits is planned in accordance with the help they need. “Usually, we do flock treatment but if someone needs individual treatment, we give full attention to it, we give them anti cognizant drugs with water if needed,” says Dr Irfan.
Rabbit farming is a lucrative business, which demands attention from the government as well as the individual level.
One year extension for World Bank-funded SKUAST-K project
VC SKUAST-K, DDG Education ICAR praise outstanding performance of university NAHEP team
Srinagar, June 21: Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has granted a one-year extension of its World Bank-funded National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) to Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Kashmir.
NAHEP aims to re-orient agricultural education as per modern needs and raise the standard of the current agricultural education system that provides more jobs, is entrepreneurship oriented and on par with the global agriculture education standards. The project was awarded to SKUAST-K initially for three years in July 2019 with a financial outlay of about Rs 30 crore.
The one-year extension of the project was announced today during a function held to felicitate the coordinators, consultants and other staff after SKUAST-Kashmir was rated among the best performers among 58 agricultural institutions of higher education and research in the country during the recently held annual review of the project.
Vice-Chancellor, SKUAST-Kashmir, Prof JP Sharma was the chief guest and Deputy Director General Education ICAR and National Director NAHEP, Dr RC Agarwal was the guest of honour of the function. National Coordinator NAHEP Dr Ramasundaram together with Directors, Deans, Registrar, other officers of University and University Scientists comprising Core Coordinators of NAHEP, Faculty Coordinators, Innovation Ambassadors and NAHEP staff attended the function that was conducted in hybrid mode (Offline + online). The Vice-Chancellor felicitated Director Planning & Monitoring and Principal Investigator NAHEP, Professor Nazir Ahmad Ganai and his entire team of Core Coordinators, Faculty Coordinators, Innovation Ambassadors and NAHEP staff for their contribution by virtue of which IDP-NAHEP of SKUAST-Kashmir was rated among the best performers. He complimented the NAHEP team for their hard work and assured of all administrative support for the sustainability of the reform process initiated under NAHEP even after the project support is over.
National Director NAHEP Dr RC Aggarwal in his address lauded SKUAST-Kashmir for effective implementation of the institutional development plan of SKUAST-K. He hoped that SKUAST-K will develop a Model Agricultural Higher Education Setup for the whole Country. Dr P Ramasundaram, National Coordinator NAHEP complimented SKUAST-Kashmir for achieving all the targets and meeting all the timelines of the project implementation. The innovative approach adopted by SKUAST-K during the implementation of the project to circumvent the limitations imposed by continuous lockdowns was also highlighted.
Mementoes and Appreciation Certificates were awarded to NAHEP Coordinators and Staff. Directors Research, Prof Sarfaraz A Wani, Director Education, Professor MN Khan, Dean Students Welfare, MA Siddiqui, Dean Horticulture Prof AH Hakim also spoke on the occasion. Two Faculty members currently on overseas training in the USA and Turkey joined the event through virtual mode and shared their experiences about international exposure they got because of the NAHEP support. Prof Azmat Alam Khan, Associate Director Research & Coordinator NAHEP conducted the proceedings, Prof MA Baqal, Associate Dean College of Sericulture welcomed the guests and Prof FA Zaki, HRM consultant proposed the vote of thanks.
The Chicken Tale
A conversation at a poultry shop
Azmat Alam Khan
They were seeing each other for the first time. The broiler chick in its lifetime of six weeks had been always with chicken of its own type and all the time busy feeding. Likewise, the layer hen in her lifetime of eighteen months had met hens of her own type and over twelve months or so, she and her pen-mates had been busy laying eggs almost every day. The two would have never met, had not the coloured birds arrived at the poultry shop where both broiler and layer chicken were otherwise put for display in separate decks of a multi-deck cage. The arrival of coloured birds necessitated vacating one deck; as a result, the broiler birds were shifted to lower deck containing layer hens.
Both the Broiler chick and Layer hen tried to avoid each other and began nibbling on some leftover crumbs in the feeder. Luckily for both of them, the poultry shop had very few customers because of some misinformation arising on account of the outbreak of bird flu in a neighbouring state. No customers at the shop meant chicken at display got some more time to stay alive.
Nibbling on the crumbs from the feeder did not last long. Layer hen who was more outspoken was first to break the ice and strike a conversation. “Excuse me, Sir! You seem to be quite smart, and I guess you are taking good care of your physique. Any tips for me?” she told the broiler chick. “Thanks for the compliment. Please do not address me as Sir! I am just six weeks of age”, the broiler chick spoke in a bit of a hurry. “Only six weeks!” exclaimed the layer hen. “You must be from some other planet” the layer hen added. “No madam. I am from this very planet. I am specifically bred for fast growth. In fact, I am a crossbred. My parents are from different breeds; Cornish father and Plymouth Rock mother to be precise” the broiler chick explained. “Are chicken of your type only males and if there are females in your breed do they lay eggs,” the layer hen asked with excitement. “Of course! there are male and female broiler chicks” the broiler chick replied, pointing to two broiler chicks in the cage who were females. “And if we grow, hens among us can lay eggs also,” the broiler chick added in a husky voice. “Unfortunately, we end up quite young on the man’s plate and never get to grow beyond seven weeks of age”, the broiler chick added in a depressing tone. “Ah! Sorry to hear that” the layer hen tried to console the broiler chick.
“Madam, tell me something about yourself. How old are you? What about your ancestry?” the broiler chick enquired. “Well! I am some eighteen months old and mostly the birds of our type belong to White Leghorn breed” the hen replied. “You seem to be quite lean and thin. Don’t you get enough food to eat?” the broiler chick enquired further. “Like your breed has been specifically bred for fast growth, our breed has been specifically bred for laying a good number of eggs,” the hen replied. “That is really great more eggs would mean more baby chicks. Your breed must be propagating well,” the broiler chick replied. He was now getting very interested in the conversation. “Don’t you have male birds” the broiler chick enquired further.
The layer hen replied with a deep sigh, “My boy! There is a very sad story behind all this. No doubt our breed lays a good number of eggs but eggs being laid by females, the male chicks of our breed are killed once they are hatched. Man has mastered the skill of identifying the sex of baby chicks at their hatch. The male chicks are identified, separated and dumped in polythene bags and suffocated to death. Only female chicks get to grow in layer farms and after six months of age start laying eggs and lay an egg almost every day”.
“Wait! Wait! How come you lay eggs without males,” the broiler chick interrupted. “My boy! No male intervention is required to lay eggs,” the layer hen explained. “Man needs table eggs (unfertilised) for his diet and he gets them from the hens. Such eggs will never produce chicks even if incubated for 100 days instead of 21 days. For getting chicks a separated class of chicken known as parent stock is reared where in cocks and hens are stocked together to obtain fertile eggs for hatching,” the hen added further.
“O! That is the case. Thank you for the explanation,” the broiler chick said. “Well, now I am able to understand that I am here in this shop to be sold to somebody to relish my meat and you are here to produce eggs that are being sold in those trays”, the broiler chick added, pointing to the stack of egg boxes and trays lying in another corner of the poultry shop. “No my boy! You are wrong”, the layer hen replied clearing her throat. “Like you, I am here to end up on somebody’s plate. I am done with the job of laying eggs. I still can but not with that high frequency. The hens of my age are sold as spent hens,” the layer hen added further.
While the layer hen and the broiler chick were engrossed in an interesting discussion, the poultry shop had a customer who asked for a chicken. The shop owner caught hold of the broiler chick and in no time, dressed it and handed over the cut-up parts to the customer packed in a bag. While the layer hen was still lamenting at the sudden loss of her newly found friend, a beggar woman approached the poultry shop owner for alms. She begged the shopkeeper to spare some giblets for preparing soup for her children. The shopkeeper was too generous and instead of giving away giblets, he caught hold of a layer hen, dressed it and handed over the packet to the beggar woman.
The author teaches Poultry Science at SKUAST-Kashmir. He can be reached at [email protected]
Kashmir’s only rabbit farm seeks to popularise cuniculture among valleyities
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The Chicken Tale
Seri-Business: Emerging entrepreneurship model in sericulture
One year extension for World Bank-funded SKUAST-K project
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