In developing countries like Pakistan reduction of rural poverty is a paramount goal. According

to World Bank estimate more than 70% poor people live in rural areas. Various strategies have

been pursued to address this concern and create new employment opportunities. The practice of

sericulture is one of the important agro- based pursuits with which rural population is associated

from ancient times.

Sericulture industry provides direct and indirect employment to various stakeholders and aids in augmenting their income. Sericulture sector provides sufficient returns

to the farmers in less possible time and has an ample employment generating potential. In rural

areas it is necessary to focus on a broader spectrum of the rural economy through improved ways

and means. Thus the establishment of rural based industries like sericulture, in particular, can be

very effective tool for providing support to landless farmers and also the rural women who can

also make their earnings through its practice.

Sericulture is both an art and science of raising silkworms for silk production. It is an agro-based

industry which is the cultivation of silk through rearing of silkworm for production of raw silk

and includes the operations of silk fiber production. It involves the raising of food plants for

silkworm, rearing of silkworm, reeling and spinning of cocoon for production of yarn and fabric.

The history of silk dates back to earlier civilizations. The Chinese has used silk since the 27th

century B.C. Silk as a weavable fiber was first discovered by the Chinese empress Xi Ling Shi

during 2,640 B.C. and its culture and weaving was a guarded secret for more than 2,500 years by

the Chinese. Silk was a profitable trade commodity in China. Even today, silk reigns supreme as

an object of desire and fabric of high fashion. Being a rural based industry, the production and

weaving of silk are largely carried out by relatively poor sections of the society and this aspect of

sericulture has made it popular and sustainable in many countries.

The World Raw Silk production is about 126995 MT (2009) mainly from two countries, China

and India. China leads the world with silk production of 104000 MT or 81.89% of the produce

while Indias raw silk production is 19690 MT. Pakistan share in world trade export of silk is

only 0.03% while in import 2.77%. There is a big gap between import and export of Pakistans

silk. We can not only save a lot of capital but also earn a lot by improving Sericulture industry in


Top five Importer andamp; Exporter of Silk and Pakistan

Country Export In US $ Country Import In US $

China 1,706,042,559 China, Hong Kong 118,744,970

Germany 97,553,597 USA 170,969,566

India 163,511,111 India 325,773,845

Italy 389,275,471 Italy 396,912,050

Japan 112,986,528 Japan 179,738,927

Pakistan 686,077 Pakistan 33,949,018

Pakistans Share In

W/ trade

0.03% Pakistans Share In

W/ trade


Total 2,470,055,343 Total 1,226,088,376

Main occupation of Pakistan populations is agriculture. And silk industry is based on agricultural

output and it is a labor intensive avocation. Silk industry can provide employment for the rural

masses ensuring economic returns at the individual family level. Silk is a high valued textile. It is

suitable for rural people especially women due to following reasons:

o Sericulture needs less specialized skill and hence almost all the men and women can be

linked to this industry.

o It involves usually indoor activities so suited for women. Rural women can do it near

their houses and while doing their daily chores as rearing needs feeding etc at intermittent


o Sericulture is less labor intensive because less physical force is required.

o It requires Minimum investment which can be arranged easily by the poor.

o Farmers can get good income in very short period of 40-45 days.

o It is eco-friendly occupation because it involves the cultivation of Mulberry.

Mulberry silkworms, Eri silkworms, Tasar silkworms and Muga Silkworms are some species of

silkworms. Mulberry contribute 95% of worlds silk production. In Pakistan Mulberry silk

production is common. The practice adopted by people for production of mulberry silk is given


Mulberry Cultivation: Silkworms feed on mulberry leaves. So cultivation of mulberry trees is

necessary for silk production, which provides a regular supply of leaves to the silkworms. There

are over 20 species of mulberry, of which four are common: Morus alba, M. indica, M. serrata

and M latifolia. Mulberry is propagated either by seeds, root- grafts or stem cuttings, the last one

being most common. Cuttings, 22-23 cm long with 3-4 buds each and pencil thick, are obtained

from mature stem. These are planted directly in the field or first in nurseries to be transplanted

later. After the plants have grown, pruning is carried out and leaves are collected after 10 weeks

of pruning. Seeds are obtained from grainages, which are the centers for production of disease

free seeds of pure and hybrid races in large quantities. Bombyx mori is domesticated insect which

feed exclusively on the leaves of Mulberry tree to produce raw silk in the form of cocoon.

Rearing: The silkworms are actually larvae of the silkmoth. They are reared in specially made

trays in rooms with controlled temperature and humidity (22°C and 65% RH) and regularly fed

mulberry leaves. Entire branch with leaves is fed to Larvae. Periodic feeding and cleaning is very

necessary. At a certain stage they convert themselves into pupa. The pupa is covered within a

thick, oval, white or yellow silken case called cocoon. These cocoons are made from a single

filament of material secreted by the pupa and wrapped around itself for protection. These

filaments upon hardening constitute silk. On an average, 1 acre of plantation would yield 240 kg

of cocoons in a year, starting from 100 DFLs (Disease Free Layings i.e Eggs). Farmers can

harvest the cocoons 4 to 8 times in a year, depending upon whether it is dryland or irrigated


Reeling: The removal of silk yarn from the cocoons is called reeling. The cocoons are cooked

first in hot water at 95-97 o C for 10-15 minutes to soften the adhesion of silk threads among

themselves and unwinding the filaments. Usually 8-10 cocoons are reeled together. There are

three methods for reeling: the charkha, the slightly more advanced cottage basin and the costly

automatic machines.

Twisting: Prior to weaving, the raw silk is boiled in water to remove remaining gum, dyed and

bleached, and then woven.

Weaving: Clothes are created by the weaving of thread. Thread is formed by the raw silk and

then it is woven into garments by the handloom or power loom.

Products of silk filament include Silk Yarn, silk cloth, Made-ups, Readymade Garments, Silk

Carpets and Silk Wastes.


Sericulture is suitable to many parts of Punjab and Azad Kashmir. Environment is favorable for

mulberry cultivation. So sericulture can be adopted as a profession by the farmers. To solve the

employment problems and poverty, boosting up of sericulture industry is very necessary. Policy

makers must formulate and adopt policies for silk industry to solve unemployment problem and

boost up export of silk products, which improve silk industry in Pakistan and will reduce burden

on budget on the import of silk.

By Web Team

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