Need details about silk worm farming
I am going to take a swag at this. I am assuming that you need an overview rather than technicalities of the operations, which in my opinion need to be understood thoroughly from a practitioner or a course from Silk Board rather than from a forum. I feel the need to put in a disclaimer. I am currently not running sericulture operations but planning to do that very soon. I did spend a considerable time with a very knowledgable person who has been hands-on with this. He is involved in all aspects including production of fabric for a long time.
Silkworm larvae feed on leaves of mulberry plants and growing these plants is one of the cornerstones of this farming. It will decide the feed available for the larvae and these are one hell of gluttons!
One acre can support four to five cycles of silkworm rearing. You generally purchase “roe” of eggs from the local government body. I borrowed the term “roe” as I am not aware of what a bunch of eggs are called in seri. Each of them has 600 eggs. In a 35 day cycle, they are ready to be taken to the markets. The actually rearing involves a lot of technical things which I feel are kind of difficult to pen down in this post.
Anyways, assume that 100 roes give you 100 kgs. I have seen examples of people producing 130 kgs as well. Each kg assuming a rate of 400 INR will bring in 100 X 400 = 40,000 INR. With four cycles a year, you can get 160,000 INR per acre. Folks (at least the farmers whom I met), do 300 roes, typically in two acre plots. 8 to 10 cycles and approximately 300 kgs/cycle and you can do the math! This does require operational costs such as labor etc so please do not consider this as net income. Margins are high though.
To start with I have been told that one requires a capex of around 1.5 to 2 lakhs per acre and then it is one lakh for each additional acre. This involves shed, curtains, trays, handling material etc. At least in Maharashtra, the government gives a subsidy of approximately 3 lakhs spread over two years. The shed which I had seen was 40 feet X 20 feet with two rows of running trays (in a stacked fashion).
Key things to note:
- I was advised that at least the first one year should be considered as experiential year. Possibility of losing batches should be considered. Start gradually with 100 roe.
- Use of chemical farming should be minimized especially aerial misting of pesticides which can have adverse impact on larvae.
- Grading is important.
- This needs to be very hands-on. Larvae need to be fed twice a day as per schedule, very punctually. It will be good if folks from your household are involved as contract labor may not do complete justice.
- Keen observation around feeding, quantity etc is required and adjustments to be made accordingly. Trial and error becomes order of the day during initial period.
- Good sanitation and hygiene is a must. Good air circulation, humidity, temperature needs to be maintained. I want to stress on the point that this requires ATTENTION.
- Process is a bit complex and requires good handling but not a real deterrent.
- Quality with quantity of mulberry is important. You do not want to run out of food for the larvae at the last stage. Believe me, they hog .
I believe this is a good business to be in and once one gets a hang of it, opportunities are galore.
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