Silk Sector

Historically silk Industry of Kashmir goes far back in time and can be found in written records as early in the 7th century A.D in Xuang zang travel accounts,even as the opening of the Silk Road in 2nd century B.C along with its route through Kashmir.indicates that the industry had possibly been in existence for far longer.

Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin was known to have been a champion of arts & crafts, the sericulture & silk industry also got impetus.

Kashmir came under the silk rule in 1819 who paid great attention towards the development of silk industry this progress continued upto the end of the sikh rule in 1846 and by that time silk had become an important article of trade.

Maharaja kept the operations of the industry under control and the supervision of Babu Nilamber Mukerji,the cheif Judge of Kashmir, who took great pains to make himself acquainted with breeding of the silk-worms and spinning of their cocoons as persued in other sericultural countries.

A major setback to the growth of the industry in state, was disease of the silk-worms knows as "Pebrin" which started in other parts of India in 1875 and reached Kashmir by 1878, due to which silk industry was almost wiped out.

This epidemic destroyed the whole crop of worms and silk industry was virtually eliminated in the state. Out of 127 rearing houses built in 1869 only two survived , one at Raghunathpura (srinagar) and othr at Sherpura (Anantnag).

In 1889, the government came to the conclusion the revival of the industry could be of great economic benefit to the state.

In the year 1897, Directorate of Sericulture was established under C.W.Walton who had vast experience in sericulture.

In the year 1898 two filatures were erected at Rambagh Srinagar and additions were made from time to time. By the year 1907, eight filatures had been setup which were providing direct employment to around 5000 people.

In the yaer 1907 a small filature was established in jammu further to give boost to silk rearing activity, in 1909 a seperate sericulture department was established at jammu.

On 31st July, 1913 a disastrous fire in Srinagar filatures practically destroyed the whole factory (six double storied buildings) and almost the whole stock cocoons. Out of 2072 basins, 1272 were destroyed in this fire and the total loss was calculated to be Rupees 15.14 lakhs of which about Rupees 12.0 lakhs compensated by the insuarance company. Later on, filatures were built again and by 1918 there were five filatures containing 1520 basins in Government Silk Factory.

In order to provide a fillip to weaving, the govrnment decide to establish a seperate weaving factory at Rajbagh Srinagar in 1937.

During 1958 Central Silkworm seed station at pampore (Kashmir) was established wherein existing silkworm races were transferred for maintaining them scientifically in the state. Mulberry plantation was undertaken on a large scale and several races were introduced and maintained at basic seed station Mirgund and Sialsalan Udhampur.

The number of mulberry trees and rearers as well as quantum of seed production and distribution started declining which stood in the way of progress of silk industry and ultimately led to dismal state of production of 18 MT of raw silk in 1990-91, in sharp contrast to production of 113 MT of raw silk during pre-independence period.

In the present scenario the sericulture industry is distributed across 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Major Silk production districts are Anantnag, Kupwara, Pulwama, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Udhampur, Rajouri, Reasi and Kathua.

Given the importance of silk sector in the state, Government of Jammu and Kashmir has launched an integrated approach for development of silk industry, focusing its efforts on increasing the quality and quantity of cocoons produced as well as production of finished silk within the state, Industries and Commerce Department aims at an annual production of 10 lakhs metres of silk fabric by 2020, utilizing around 90 MT of cocoons produced locally.

The department expects to further boost raw silk production through facilitation of private reelers, to reach upto 300 MT, by the year 2020.

The aim is to increase both the quantity and quality of cocoon production, through better facilities to cocoon rearers, providing them greater access to local markets and having reeling and post reeling facilities within the state.



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