Mulberry Tree, Silkworms and Industrialization in Kashmir

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Industrial activity plays an important role in the development of a country. And economic growth depends on developing an inclusive and sustained approach to boost industrial activity. Though the state of Jammu and Kashmir has undergone various stages of industrialization, there has not been a significant improvement in developing modern industries as a major engine of economic development. The state mostly has manufacturing, small-scale and cottage industries etc. These industries are in both parts of Jammu and Kashmir but some parts have been marked as significant in traditional industries. Sericulture was once a highly regarded and developed industrial sector.mulberry-tree-insight-on-kashmir

A few areas in the state of Jammu and Kashmir have historically been popular for the rearing of silkworms on mulberry trees. Silkworms are also known as webworms because of the silky webs they construct in trees. These insects are best raised on mulberry tree leaves as the best quality species of silkworms can eat only mulberry leaves. Though there are other kinds of webworms that can eat leaves of other evergreen trees. These silkworms are raised to produce silk and it requires a certain degree of scientific knowledge and technical skills.

Generating income via sericulture has been a popular economic activity in both parts of the divided state of Jammu and Kashmir. For thousands of households, seri­culture has been a steady source of income. The popular places in Indian side are Jammu,  Srinagar, Udhampur, and Miragund.

As the leaves of mulberry trees are soft, glossy, and smooth on both sides. The best-known varieties of the mulberry tree are red, black and white mulberry. These trees grow in sandy, dry soil and nurture freely in an area where natural drainage systems work well.

As per estimates, there are over 700,000 lakh mulberry trees, out of which 53 percent (370,000) are in Jammu Division and 47 percent in Kashmir Division. Annually, about 6,680 quintals of raw silk are produced which is approxi­mately worth Rs. 50 crores or 50 million.

The sustainability of livelihood via sericulture is affected by various factors. However, non-availability of quality mulberry species, improper plantation practices, and inadequate aftercare has badly affected the growth and development of sericulture as a modern industry. To remedy the current situation, several solutions have been proposed in recent years. For instance, avoiding planting of mulberry in gravel and waterlogged soils, avoiding damage to the roots while uprooting plants, transporting plants without any damage to the buds and planting only disease-free plants among others.silkworm-insight-on-kashmir

Similarly, the inadequacy of mulberry leaves and damage caused by insects and pests are the major problems in the development and expansion of sericulture. Now the Sericulture Development Department is laying stress on raising dwarf mulberry trees to supplement and replenish the traditional tall mulberry trees. As a result of these efforts, the dwarf varieties have increased substantially in the state. The temporal change in the sericulture develop­ment has been given in Table 8.ulberry and maple trees have a significance in industrialization of Kashmir since long.

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