KAMPALA- On December 16, 2022, Uganda sent its first silk yarn brand samples for testing in European market. The target was to meet the specifications for Grade 6A which is the best quality silk globally to begin commercial production however, only less than 1-3% of silk production globally meets this grade.
According to the Executive Director Tropical Institute of Development Innovations (TRIDI) Mr Clet Wandui Masiga, Usilk did not make it to the higher grade. He however revealed that the silk engineers and investors and entrepreneurs from Europe where the test was done are coming to Uganda next month to visit Uganda factory.
“So they can see cocoon quality, machine and production environment. This way they can provide suggestion in order to improve the quality to produce Grade 6A silk yarn,” he said in a press statement dated January 25, 2022.
Masiga noted that Uganda is now ready to begin commercial silk yarn production.
“Results of our silk yarn that was sent to Europe for grade testing have been released and we are within the commercial grades. Our target was however Grade A. We did the research and we are convinced that our mulberry production is the best globally. Our research also demonstrates that the rearing conditions are also the best. We are also using the best or latest next generation processing equipment and as such we expected Grade 6A. We decided that we shall build our own capacity by training young engineers to produce the yarn and they have done it first time,” said Masiga.
He further revealed that the raw silk which Uganda is currently producing is divided into 11 grades, from 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, A, B, C, D, E, to F.
“Grade A silk is the best quality silk with long strands, with a luminous pearl white colour that is free from impurities. It glistens in the light and a single thread of silk can stretch to kilometer in length in its natural form. It is lightweight and when woven into a silk fabric it keeps the fabric breathable and completely smooth to touch,” reads the statement in part.
In grade A, Silk is classified into A- 6A, and the higher the number, the better the quality. Silk grade 6A account for approximately 3% and grade 5A account for approximately 7%. Uganda’s target was to be in the top 3% which target must be achieved.
He said Silk quality standards are ranked according to the uniformity of yarn, minimal impurities, minimal fluff, tensile strength and elongation and Usilk count/denier size was 25.2D which was excellent considering the specifications used in the production was 19-33 denier.
“We had high cuts per kg of silkyarn and more impurities. When we received the results we immediately gathered our technical teams to do a quick evaluation. The cocoons used had over stayed resulting in more cuts. The water used was both dirty and hard water. The hardness of water affects essentially the surface characteristics of the raw silk colour, luster softness etc. Some of the cocoons used was produced using mulberry that had not been managed well due to several management challenges experienced between June 2021- to December 2022,” he noted.
Masiga however noted that they are going to work on the challenges to produce Usilk grade 6A, the world’s best.
“This is to ensure we get the best price. Additionally, once we target the best quality, it means that even if we do not get the target, all our silk will be sold as per other lower to quality grades from F, E, D, C, B, A, 2A, 3A, 4A, and 5A. The lowest price for the lowest grade of silk yarn is USD30 per kg. The best is USD 120 per kg. Our target is the best grade 6A to earn USD120 per kg. We should not have a problem to get the best after all we produce the best mulberry and best cocoons,” said Masiga.