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Govt initiative tries to revive Syrian silk industry
Nov '10
Battered by the economic conditions which have driven the farmers to substitute mulberry trees with olive groves and fruit orchards, Syria's most famous silk industry is somehow managing to survive today. Farmers are still trying to keep the traditional industry alive by raising silkworms in the spring and spinning the silk thread in the autumn season. Most of the silk farmers are engaged in the entire process of silk production right from the beginning, which is raising the silkworms to the end, which involves creating silk fabrics or clothes.

The region earlier earned huge recognition for its silk production. However over the last century, the demand for this luxury product had been falling down and the number of mulberry farmers had declined drastically. In spite of the fact that the sales of the silk products are not sufficient to cover the cost of production as well as the labor charges, some of the silk farmers want this age-old and beautiful craft to continue.

At present, around 16 villages and 48 families are engaged in sericulture. The rapidly increasing cost of living has forced the farmers to go for olive and fruit production, particularly in the last two decades. In 1908, the total cocoon harvest was 60,000 tons whereas over the last few years it has drastically come down to simply a couple of tons. In the 1960s, Syria had emerged as a major silk exporter in the entire region. But after that most of the factories started closing down.

On an average, they earn nearly 8,000 Syrian pounds which is equivalent to 120 euros and 166 US dollars yearly. The silk shawls sell at high prices usually between 3,000 to 8,000 Syrian pounds. Marketing of silk products is carried out only by word of mouth.

About two years ago, a scheme was initiated jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Tourism to restore the silk industry. Under this scheme, mulberry farmers are given an incentive of 250 Syrian pounds for every kilo of cocoons produced. The cocoon production has enhanced from 2.6 tons in 2009 to 3.1 tons in 2010 as a result of the initiative. This initiative is the only ray of hope left for the Syrian silk industry and it is expected that the country will be able to continue with all stages of silk production.

Fibre2fashion News Desk-India

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