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Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's bastion of Gorakhpur may get Uttar Pradesh's first regional silk research centre as the state looks to meet the demands of its weaver community and raise its share in the national production.
Central Silk Board Chairman K M Hanumantharayappa said an acre of mulberry sericulture has a potential to generate a gross income of more than Rs 1 lakh per year, which could be higher than the returns obtained from most agricultural crops.
He said, despite good quality of cocoons, the state's share in overall production at the national level is barely three per cent -- at around 270 metric tonne.
"Our endeavour is to take this to at least 15-20 per cent. Regional silk research centre will be established in Gorakhpur. This will be the first of its kind in UP," Hanumantharayappa said.
He said women farmers in rural areas may be identified and trained in various activities of sericulture.
"Besides, establishment of cocoon market is a must. For the want of an organised marketing support, the state's farmers sell their cocoon to West Bengal and Karnataka at low prices," he said.
For meeting the domestic demand of weaving clusters such as Varanasi, quality silk production should be increased, he said.
Comparing Uttar Pradesh with other states, he said UP has good water supply compared to some other states, e.G., Karnataka.
"However, awareness level among the farmers is low, the market is relatively small and the size of farm land holding is also smaller compared to other states," he said.
He further added that Krishi melas are being organised on a large scale in order to popularise sericulture in rural areas of the state.
"Sericulture will definitely help farmers augment their income. Till now, I have not heard that a farmer engaged in sericulture has committed suicide," he said.
The Silk Board Chairman stressed on establishment of Multi-end Reeling Machines (MRM) and said the government will make efforts to provide these machines to entrepreneurs at a subsidised rate after imparting them proper training.
"There are 170 government silk farms in the state and a proposal has been sent to the state government for installing the automatic reeling machines.
"Superior yarn produced thereon will replace the imported yarn. We are planning to arrange awareness visits to such machines," he said.
Talking about his interaction with stakeholders in Varanasi, Hanumantharayappa said they raised several points including increasing raw silk production in the state and establishment of yarn banks.
Elaborating on different types of sericulture prevalent in UP, he said, "Tasar culture is a subsidiary occupation of the tribals living in south UP."
Chandauli, Sonbhadra, Lalitpur and Fatehpur are the major districts identified for tropical Tasar, he said.
"Eri culture is practised in Kanpur, Kanpur Dehat, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot, Banda and Fatehpur districts. There is a vast potential in this sector," he concluded.