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Rural women spin wealth from silkworm cultivation
May '10
For a group of women in Rachuonyo, worms are a sign of turning rich, as silkworm rearing, which was once looked at with doubt, is now getting popular in the Kabondo area.

The International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) has provided silkworms to farmers who have formed groups in the region.

Emily Sikuku Ogweno is a member of one such group called, Kabondo Silk Project Group and has 30 members with her. Each of these members is responsible or has about half-an-acre of land with mulberry trees, which is a staple diet for silkworms.

According to Charles Otieno, Secretary of the Kabondo silk farmers, about 20,000 silkworms can be reared on half-an-acre land of mulberry trees. Silkworms are basically white-coloured caterpillars of the local silkworm moth. These moths spin a cocoon, which is then processed to manufacture silk fibre.

Explaining the procedure further, Otieno said that, these worms are fed for about a month after they are received from ICIPE. In ICIPE they are hatched, before they turn into a cocoon and then dried in speed for spinning. But the rearing is done only at room temperature.

Farmers rear silkworm in their houses, so that they could be protected from an environment full of direct sunlight, kitchen smoke, odours and predators.

On an aggregate, farmers procure 15 kilograms of silk thread from half-an-acre land of mulberry trees. This quantity of silk acquired is then sold in the range of Sh 8,250–10,000. The initial price of manufacturing is Sh 3,000, which includes Sh 500 for a crate of 20,000 silkworms and Sh 2,500 for cutting 5,000 mulberry trees.

Post the cultivation of mulberry trees, a farmer has to only purchase caterpillars, as the trees can be utilised for atleast 15 years. The farmer has to just prune the trees. As per Ogweno, silkworm rearing is not labour-oriented and can be done during all the seasons.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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