TUMAKURU: Karnataka government seems just carried away as it has in an attempt to safeguard the interest of the farmers has allegedly made a blunder by taking a decision to open the silk cocoon markets in its order on March 26 and eventually helping the markets open on March 27.
Although silk cocoons in a way is not an essential commodity, by letting the markets open it has not only risked those who have been congregating there hugely but also the rural masses. When the China silk import stopped due to the Covid19 scare last month the farmers here raised the price up to Rs 700 per kg at Ramanagara and Shidlaghatta markets and continued to rear the silkworms.
But after the lockdown, the farmers got into trouble as the transportation affected. Some of the concerned farmers had even dumped their worms as paying a visit to the markets is risky.
But the majority of them have continued hoping for a good price but it has also crashed to Rs 200-Rs300 per kg. The prices may further fall as the chain of the business has broken as there is no business of the silk, the saris. The reeling and weavers at places like Kalluru and Y N Hosakote have stopped the work.
"In markets about 2000 people gather and the keeping the social distance, like in vegetable markets, is impractical as it involves checking the goods for the quality, lifting and transporting happens in close contact between the individuals", observed Shivananda, who has been involved in sericulture for over 25 years at Kallannakere village in Turuvekere taluk.
There were about 56 such farmers at his village and thirty of them had dumped the worms in just one week ahead of cocoon formation because they were afraid of the spread of the virus if they visited the markets.
" I too lost Rs 1.5 lakh and it's not a big deal as we were fighting against the Covid19", remarked Shivananda.
He suggested that the farmers those who had already grown the cocoons can directly contact the reelers who had automatic reeling machines(ARMs), there were 25 such in Ramananagara and surrounding areas, to get a reasonable price.
Alternatively, the cocoons already formed can be preserved by sun-drying them and also by using the driers at the facilities provided by the government at KSIC and also at places like Pavagada where it has come up at an estimated cost of Rs 40 lakh one and half years ago.
Meanwhile, state sericulturist welfare forum convener Malluru Shivanna has even written a letter to the concerned authorities to ban the business for an indefinite time.
Unless the government's sericulture department's involvement, no sericulture farmer can take up the rearing of the worms as the business - from the distribution of the seeds to the opening of the markets-is in the control of the department.