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Thai silk industry spins Eri silk from cassava-fed worms
Jan '13
Prof. Tipvadee
Prof. Tipvadee
Thailand silk industry has achieved success in spinning a new environment friendly yarn – ‘Eri silk’ from cassava-fed silkworms, the Bangkok Post reported. 
Having a non-glossy texture, Eri silk is lightweight and does not develop wrinkles easily, so it is not necessary to get it dry-cleaned. These factors have made the fabric popular globally, particularly in Japan and Europe.
Cassava root usually finds utility in processing animal feed and in ethanol industry, but its leaves are removed as they are of no use.
However, Prof. Tipvadee Attathom found out that these leaves can be used to feed silkworms. This finding formed the base for a research project by entomology department of Nakhon Pathom province based Kasetsart University in the Kamphaeng Saen campus.
According to Prof. Tipvadee she was keen on helping the cassava farmers earn better and to ensure optimum utilization of cassava plant, a major plant of the country, which cajoled her to do research. 
The project has resulted in generation of new findings about integrating the supply chain – from nurturing the Eri worms to spinning to weaving of silk and its ultimate transformation into a finished product. 
Presently, 35 Eri silk farm groups are participating in the project along with a number of textile firms.
Prof. Tipvadee informed that they have united with Spun Silk World Co. so as to develop silk that can stand up to the eco-friendly product norms like the Peace Silk trademark.
Last year, the project also bagged an award from the Thailand Research Fund (TRF), she said.
As informed by Prof. Tipvadee, the wild silkworms that produce Eri silk have their roots in north-east India and were first brought to Thailand around four decades back.
Traditionally, Thailand drew silk from silkworms feeding on mulberry leaves, however the Eri worm relies on cassava and castor leaves.
Originally, the Eri worm relied on castor leaves, but the Thai cassava farmers feed them cassava leaves, which are available in abundance in several parts of Thailand.
Owing to their humid weather, Chiang Mai, Uthai Thani, Lampang, Chiang Rai and Nakhon Sawan provinces are more suitable as compared to other regions for raising Eri silkworms, she said.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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