Silk is a way of life in India. Over thousands of years, it has become an inseparable part of Indian culture and tradition. No ritual is complete without silk being used as a wear in some form or the other. Sericulture and Silk Textiles Industry is one of the major sub-sector comprising the textiles sector. Sericulture is an agro-based cottage industry. Sericulture refers to the mass-scale rearing of silk producing organisms in order to obtain silk. Sericulture is an agro-based labour intensive industry. The major activities involved in a sericulture industry are:
- Cultivation of silkworm food plants
- Rearing of silkworms for the production of raw silk
- Reeling the cocoons for unwinding the silk filament and
- Other post-cocoon processes such as twisting, dyeing, weaving, printing and finishing.
Sericulture is one of the most labour intensive sectors, combining activities of both agriculture (sericulture) and industry. India is ranked as the second major raw silk producer in the world. It is this position along with its immense employment potential, that makes sericulture and silk, indispensable in the Indian textile map.
Silk is a high value but low volume product accounting for only 0.2 % of world's total textile production. It churns out value added products of economic importance.
India holds the monopoly on producing the Muga silk. It is the only one cash crop in agriculture sector that gives returns within 30 days. Sericulture emerged as an important economic activity, becoming increasingly popular in several parts of the country, because of its short gestation period, quick recycling of resources. It suits very well to all types of farmers and exceptionally for marginal and small land holders as it offers rich opportunities for enhancement of income and creates own family employment round the year.
The Government of India (GOI) has concurrent responsibility for the development of the silk industry in the country. At the Central level, Ministry of Textiles is the nodal organisation with 'Sericulture and Silk Textiles Industry' as one of the principal functional areas.
There are several centrally sponsored schemes for promotion and development of sericulture sector , through which Government of India has been undertaking different activities like creation of sericulture related infrastructure; development of nurseries and farms; expanding plantation areas; etc.