DHARMAPURI: It’s a case of glass half-full or half-empty for sericulturists in Dharmapuri as price of silk cocoon has gone up but output has dropped due to nippy weather. With the onset of southwest monsoon, there may be a further drop in output in the coming months, farmers said.Aided by dry climatic condition, sericulture is one of the major occupations in the district.
The district has over 800 hectares of mulberry farms in Pennagaram, Dharmapuri and other parts of the district.
After the markets reopened post the pandemic lockdown, silk cocoons were trading between Rs 250 kg and Rs .375 kg, said G Mathaiyan, a sericulturist. The district has been receiving sporadic rains and mulberry fields thrive in these conditions. But moisture affects the quality of silk cocoons and in some cases they cannot even be traded. As production falls, price of silk cocoons go up, he said.
Another sericulturist J Elango said the price of silk cocoon varies from Rs 335 per kg to Rs 715 per kg, depending on quality. “The cocoons from Dharmapuri are mostly bought by reelers from Kancheepuram, Kumbakonam, and Thanjavur. They prefer our cocoons because our climate produces the best quality silk.
According to MG Manivannan, a member of the Tamil Nadu Cooperative Silk Board, after the pandemic, the price of all commodities has increased and silk was no exception. The silk price has doubled, because the price of raw material (silk cocoon) has increased. Before the pandemic, the maximum price of silk cocoons was between Rs 350 kg and Rs 375 per kg and the minimum price was between Rs 250 kg and Rs 300 kg. Now it has doubled.
A reeler needs seven kg of cocoons to produce one kg of silk. If the quality of the cocoon is low, more cocoons will be needed to produce a kg of silk.If the quality is good, one kg of silk threads can be produced by using five kg of cocoons. Hence, better quality cocoons fetches better price, Manivannan said.
According to Ashokkumar of Dharmapuri Silk Cocoon Market, only 56 lots of cocoons (one lot is approximately 25kg) were traded on Saturday. In May, nearly 110 lots of cocoons were auctioned every day. During dry seasons, farmers bring in more lots but prices were lower, but now price is high but supply has dwindled, he said.