No Need to Import Silk Cloth, We Can Make Here Through Sericulture

Right silk worms (Bombxy mori) feeding on mulberry leaves, Left mulberry plant growing and Middle extraction of silk from the cocoons

By Nicholas Lokuya Emmanuel

Sericulture is an innovation which involves the rearing of silkworms (Bombyx mori L.) on the leaves of mulberry plant (Morus sp) to produce silk cocoons from which raw silk or silk yarn is produced. Silk is a high natural fibre used for making precious clothes, textiles, carpets and other products which are on high demand on the domestic and international market. Sericulture also calls for value addition to ensure that the end products are attained in a desired manner making it a lucrative business venture for the youth in South Sudan. Farmers in this country also require capacity building in silkworm farming and its value chain processes.

Therefore, I call upon the government and the nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s) to really consider sericulture in their programmes and projects so that our farmers all over South Sudan will benefit from such. I strongly belief with time we South Sudanese shall be able to export the products (silk clothes, textile, carpets among others) from sericulture to our neighboring countries and even the international market once the farmers and innovators are supported.

Silk production in South Sudan is a promising agro-enterprise with the potential to increase house hold income, reducing poverty in rural and urban areas and increasing the country’s foreign exchange earnings. More so, it is gender inclusive, every one (women, men, youth, children and the elderly) can take part in silkworm farming.

The requirements for sericulture includes; land at least 1 acre for mulberry tree establishment, rearing house 30 feet by 20 feet fitted with rearing beds, quality silkworm eggs, spinning frames, spray pumps, disinfectants, herbicides, fertilizers, polyethene sheets, secateurs and pruning saws.

The biology of Silkworms

Silkworms undergo complete metamorphosis through the stages of eggs, larvae, pupa and adult to complete one generation. It is the larval stage which is active and feeds exclusively on mulberry leaves. The larval stage is divided into 5 instars and 4 moulds and lasts for about 28 days.

Silkworm eggs are incubated and hatch into young silkworm the young silkworms are then reared using young mulberry leaves as the only source of food. The 3rd instar silkworms are fed on older mulberry leaves for 2-3 weeks and form cocoons. The cocoons are then harvested and sorted for further processing. Finally the cocoons are stifled and reeled into silt threats which are used for weaving to make silk cloth, textiles and carpet for market.

The produces from cocoon includes; reeled raw silk yarn (20/22 – for the fabrics, 40/48- for fabrics, 60/ 100- for thick garments like curtains, 250/300 – for very thick garments like carpets), silk cloth/ textiles and silk waste- used for spun silk for making garments.

Mulberry cultivation

Mulberry plants are grown for the production of leaves required for feeding silkworms. The best mulberry varieties include; Kanva-2 (M5) which gives good leaf yields and is drought resistant, other varieties are; L6, S-41 and S.54.

Deep ploughing of the land to remove all the perennial weeds such as couch grass. Planting should be done at the onset of the rains or during the raining season, using cuttings from mature section of the stem 8- 10 months old mulberry plant. The cutting should have at least three buds and be planted upright, leaving on bud above the ground at the recommended spacing of 5 feet by 3 feet (150 cm by 90 cm).

Mulberry gardens should be weeded regularly; fertilizer application, pruning, disease and pest control is a prerequisite. Mulberry leaves should be harvested by shoot cutting or by plucking individual leaves during cooler hours of the day to reduce the rate of trans-evaporation. One mulberry plant in a well maintained garden can yield up to 1.15 kg of leaf per harvest (3-5 tons per acre).

The writer is an Agriculturist and can be reached through: 0924648973, Email: lokuyanicholas19@gmail.com


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