A BLINK INTO THE SERI-WORLD OF UGANDA

Every developing economy has a great uplift from agriculture and agro-based industries, which play a vital role in the improvement of the rural economy.

Uganda being endowed by a very favourable warm tropical climate on an average, has made it very suitable to practice different agri-businesses.

The need for fast development and poverty eradication in the country has made Uganda, to look for more supporting rural industries like sericulture.

Sericulture is the process of silk production through the rearing of silkworms, by producing silk fibres through raising caterpillar larvae, particularly the domesticated silkworm (Bobyx Mori).

Silk worm rearing. PHOTO BY Mercy Scarlet Kigai

As silkworms grow, they spin into cocoons, which are dried under carefully monitored temperatures in rearing houses and treated, or else risk the silk moths tearing through the cocoons.

These cocoons are then reeled into raw silk and later processed in fine silk fabrics that can be dyed into any colour and clothes like dresses, shirts, Gomesi, scarves, neck ties among others are made.

Drying of naturally yellow-pigmented fresh cocoons by sun. PHOTO BY Mercy Scarlet Kigai

In rearing, silkworms are fed on fresh, healthy, highly rich in nutrients, mostly in proteins and dry, mulberry leaves, which are grown in varied climatic conditions, ranging from temperate to tropical.

Silkworms feeding on fresh mulberry leaves. PHOTO BY Mercy Scarlet Kigai

Mulberry leaves are major economic components in sericulture as their quality and quantity per unit area, have a direct impact on cocoon quality and quantity too.

Therefore, farmers have to closely monitor their mulberry gardens to ensure healthy production so as to have quality cocoon outputs at the end of the day.

A mature mulberry plant. PHOTO BY Mercy Scarlet Kigai

Sericulture in Uganda is implemented by the Topical Institute of Development Innovation (TRIDI), under her lead project, the Commercialization of Sericulture Technologies and Innovations in Uganda.

TRIDI, has set sericulture to a next level in Uganda, with the endless support from the Government through Parliament of Uganda, which has offered funds to the project, through agencies like Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MOFPED), Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) plus the Vision 2040 program.

Members of Science and Technology Committee of Parliament of Uganda, led by Hon. Bwino Fred Kyakulaga (in orange Kitenge shirt), Committee Chairperson, pose for a group photo with the TRIDI Principal Investigator, Clet Wandui Masiga, PhD (Cream Shirt, folded arm) and some of the TRIDI Staff. PHOTO BY Mercy Scarlet Kigai

All these efforts are set to enable Uganda achieve its goals of Vision 2040, mostly poverty, unemployment eradication and improved standards of living for the citizens, so as to develop from 3rd world class to a more developed and economically independent country.

This move into sericulture is envisioned to play a vital role in the Ugandan economy in the transfer of wealth from the richer to the poorer sections of this country.

In this bid therefore, the Project has been established in up to 26 sericulture stations in 26 Districts, Mukono District being inclusive, with the established Namasumbi National Sericulture Resources Research and Development Centre.

Map showing the Sericulture Project Coverage in Uganda

The Namasumbi station in Mukono has had great development and progress since its establishment in 2019.

Namasumbi Station has so far ventured through the Sericulture Value Chain which encompasses the stages through Mulberry cultivation to silkworm rearing, cocoon production and is only yet to start silk reeling and production.

On average, this station has so far produced up to 440 kgs of cocoons, that are very healthy and viable for silk reeling and production.

Sericulture can be practiced as a normal agribusiness like coffee, sugarcane, cotton, vanilla among others, given its beneficial outputs.

The project Principal Investigator, Clet Wandui Masiga, PhD, TRIDI envisions to have this project expanded up 50 Districts, that will independently produce silk in the nearest future possible.

Identical stations to Namasumbi have been established in the Central, Western, Eastern and Northern parts of Uganda, such as in Sheema (Rubaare), Iganga, Mukono, Busitema, Kayunga, Kiruhura, Pallisa, Kitagata, Buikwe, Kween, Nwoya, Zombo, Bulambuli, Boke, Otuke, Nakaseke, Luweero, Bukedea, Kamuli, Lusanja, Mubende and Lira.

As an entry point, TRIDI normally requests to use public land or that belonging to a particular community and, or church, to ensure that the project in its expansion benefit both directly as casual workers or field officers and supervisors at the stations or indirectly through being out-growers or services to be introduced in the places in contribution to its development.

This project is targeted to improve household incomes and bring about improved standards of living among the citizens of the different communities.

TRIDI’s Commercialization of Sericulture Technologies and innovations in Uganda project, is already showing prospective success, given its widespread expansion and implementation of sericulture in Uganda, the country stands a great chance of achieving most of its VISION 2040 goals.

Story by Mercy Scarlet Kigai, P.R.O TRIDI.

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