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Silkworm rearing, alternative livelihood during pandemic in Meghalaya

Sericulture and weaving in Meghalaya are the two most important cottage based, eco-friendly industries in the rural areas

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Shillong: The Central Silk Board, Union Ministry of Textiles, MESSO P-4 Unit Mendipathar in Meghalaya’s North Garo Hills district has expressed its intention of providing sustainable employment for the people of the area by encouraging them to opt for muga silkworm rearing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Amidst the pandemic situation, people, especially the reverse migrants are rendered jobless; muga culture could create employment generation and thereby provide them a new source of income. With this hope, the Central Silk Board has come forward to minimize the severe economic condition of the poor migrants,” Mahasankar Majumdar, Scientist B & OIC, CSB, MESSO P-4 Unit Mendipathar, said.

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“Sericulture and weaving in Meghalaya are the two most important cottage-based, eco-friendly industries in the rural areas and these twin industries portray the cultural ethos and rich heritage of the people of the State. But in the absence of a textile industry, sericulture and weaving can play an important role in the production of silk fabrics and handwoven fabrics of ethnic designs,” Majumdar informed.

As per Government of Meghalaya database, around 15,900 families are currently involved in handloom activities and 16,000 families in sericulture farming.

He also highlighted the activities undertaken by MESSO during the pandemic with particular emphasis on scientific muga cultivation. Maintaining basic stock, multiplication, seed production, purchase of seeds cocoons through DBT from seed rearers, distribution of muga seeds, training and extension activities were the other activities of MESSO.

Majumdar further informed that owing to the eco-climatic condition of the region, muga cultivation can provide an opportunity to earn a sustainable amount in 30-35 days from one acre of land which is otherwise not possible from any other agricultural sector.

With scientific guidance from MESSO, the Central Silk Board has encouraged migrant labours in search of new jobs to try their hands on muga rearing.

“MESSO has been encouraging ‘Atmanirbhar’ to produce own muga seed through capacity building training. Also in tune with ‘vocal for local’, a slogan coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, MESSO is encouraging muga farmers to produce local muga raw silk through scientific methods,” Majumdar said.

Scientist Prabhat Borpuzari says, “With concerted efforts of our dedicated scientists, officers and staff, while maintaining all the SOP of COVID-19, there has been a success in creating demands for muga seeds during the pandemic”.

“Meghalaya being a ‘muga seed zone’, seed crop rearing should start in small patches through a group of selected progressive farmers during 1st week of March and 3rd week of August. Large scale rearing should be done in favourable seasons like May- June and October-November,” Borpuzari points out.

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