UGANDA TO COMMENCE SILK PRODUCTION SOONJuly 7, 2021
Engineers from China inaugurate installation of silk reeling machinery in UgandaJuly 8, 2021
Uganda has rich innovations that can lead her to economic dependence and prosperity. A case here is silk production, popularly known as, ‘Sericulture’.What is Sericulture?
Sericulture is an economic activity that involves the cultivation of mulberry plants to feed caterpillars called ‘silk warms’ which produce houses called cocoons that are turned into silk yarns from which silk fabrics are made.
Sericulture is an eco-friendly agro-based labor intensive and commercially attractive economic activity, falling under cottage and small-scale sector. Sericulture enterprise is a long-chain industry from mulberry cultivation to fabric making. Sericulture is the only cash crop, which provides frequent and attractive returns throughout the year.
Protein fibre of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. Sericulture has become an important cottage industry in the world today, creating employment for millions of rural and urban people.
Sericulture has the potential of becoming one of the most important rural industries due to certain inherent advantages like; minimum gestation period constant and periodic returns throughout the year.
Health benefits of Mulberry plant
Other than feeding the silk warms, mulberry plant has a good source of iron, vitamin C, and several plant compounds and has been linked to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and cancer risk. These berries have also been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years to treat various illnesses.
With this venture is full of financial possibilities for every household or individual who can venture in it. This is because there is earning in every step of the production; one can reap from mulberry leaves, cocoons, raw silk and the silk garments.
How does one earn in every production chain?
In commercial production, an acre of Sericulture Industry Value Chain offers a minimum of six: one for mulberry cultivation, two in Silkworm rearing, one in post cocoon technology, one in making silk fabric and one in marketing of the silk fabric job opportunities.
At an average of UGX: 300,000 per worker per month, each worker in Sericulture industry will earn UGX: 3,600,000 from one acre of cultivated land by selling silk yarn. Going up the value chain; each kilogram of silk yarn produces 9.3 meters of pure silk cloth (grey fabric) whose price ranges from USD:10 to about USD:20 per meter. 180 kilograms of yarn can produce 1,674 meters which at a rate of USD: 10/meter results into USD: 16,740. A farmer when provided with a handloom for weaving cloth can thus earn USD: 16,740 an equivalent of UGX: 62,775,000 from one acre by selling silk cloth but can even earn more if gets better price for the cloth especially if there is a mixture of mulberry yarn with yarn/threads from wild silk.
To conclude the economic perspective, an adequately trained and supported farmer can approximately earn UGX: 8 million from selling mulberry leaves and cuttings, UGX: 14 million from selling cocoons, UGX: 34 million selling yarn and UGX: 63 million from selling fabric all from having one acre of mulberry, a rearing house, a pedal/hand-reeling machine and a hand-loom. The benefit can be higher if tailored clothes are sold.
How much land does one require to start with?
Surprisingly, one needs a minimum of only one acre of land irrespective of its geographical location. To be more productive and earn bigger, more acres would be of higher value. Offering more acreage for this cause would be more lucrative. In the case of a bigger acreage, public land like one belonging to any religious group of people, a clan, kingdom or family would play the role better. In so doing, the profits would be equally shared by both parties (land owner/s and the project implementer).
What soil type is favorable for Sericulture and how should it be located?
Any type of soil can produce mulberry irrespective of the climate trend of a given place. The land can either be in the North, East, West or South.
In which districts in Uganda is Sericulture operating?
To enhance commercial production, there has been mulberry plantation establishment, management and production in 26 stations in 18 districts i.e. Sheema, Mbarara, Kiruhura, Bulambuli, Kamuli, Mubende, Gomba, Mukono, Iganga, Luweero, Kayunga, Nakaseke, Kween, Bukedea, Zombo, Nwoya, Buikwe, Pallisa, Busia (on a total of 627.92 acres).
Silkworm rearing has so far been carried out in 6 districts i.e. Sheema, Mukono, Kamuli, Pallisa, Iganga and Kayunga, Zombo, Bulambuli.
Demonstration farms are in; Lira, Adwila, Amolatar and Otuke districts.
A mulberry plantation
Who is currently practicing this in Uganda?
Currently, Tropical Institute of Development Innovations (TRIDI) is implementing silk production in the country under the influence and supervision of the government of Uganda through the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MoSTI) in the project name, “Commercialization of Sericulture Technologies and innovations in Uganda”.
More about Sericulture or silk production can be got on www.tridi.org , Facebook as Tropical Institute of Development Innovations, Twitter as, tridiuganda .