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India to halt silk imports

India’s silk industry is growing by 19 per cent a year.  The country is expected to be self-sufficient in silk production by 2020.

China produces 80 per cent of global silk output while India’s share is 13 per cent. Production in other countries accounts for the remaining seven per cent.

But while China produces only mulberry, India produces other varieties, including tasar, eri and muga.

The silk industry in India is an integral part of the textile industry and is among the oldest industries. The silk industry in India engages about 60 lakh workers and involves small and marginal farmers. But the country’s production of raw silk falls short of requirement. The aim is to stop imports from China and produce that much in three or four years.

About 80 per cent of the silk produced in the country is of mulberry silk, most of which is produced in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu followed by West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.

India needs 120,000 tons of silk and with better infrastructure, the sericulture industry could improve its productivity by 15 per cent against the current seven per cent.

An institute in India has developed a virus-resistant transgenic silkworm. This silkworm would help in stabilising silk yield levels by reducing uncertainties like viral outbreaks.