West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand is on the way to regaining its identity in Tasar silk cultivation. A project launched by the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society has opened up new horizons for silk cultivation in the district.
Working for one-and-a-half to two months, women earn nearly Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 from silk cultivation.
Last year, nearly 6,500 farmers in West Singhbhum district earned up to Rs 7.54 crore through the production and sale of nearly three crore cocoons.
Tasar silk cultivation has been practiced in the tribal areas of Jharkhand for a long time with nature's bounty of green trees, forests, and a favorable climate.
An official said the initiative to connect rural women with the scientific and technical method of Tasar cultivation was initiated through the Women Farmer Empowerment Project under the National Rural Livelihood Mission in the state. Sakhi Mandal is the nodal production group under Project Silk to bring Tasar cultivation to fruition.
Launched in 2017, the producing groups have been provided with technical assistance and agricultural implements and equipment.
To promote Tasar cultivation, nearly 150 women have been made 'master trainers' to help the community contribute to the success of the project.
Scientific cultivation of Tasar and silk involves nearly 7,500 families in the state. Women earn Rs 35,000 to Rs 45,000 annually, working hard for two months to produce cocoons. No fertile land is required for silk cultivation. Women farmers use Arjuna and Asan plants, which are in abundance in the forest, for rearing the cocoons.
Sarita Pingua, a female farmer of Hatgamhariya block, told IANS, "By spending Rs 1,800, I earn Rs 48,000 annually, that too by working hard for a few months."
"Women were initially afraid of silk farming but doing it scientifically now has increased our income and the village is changing as a whole," added Sarita.
Basic Seed Production Unit (BSPU) and Commercial Seed Production Unit (CSPU) have been formed under the leadership of women Tasar farmers belonging to the producer group where egg hatching is conducted, testing of cocoons, and disease-free layings are investigated.
Rani, who hails from Ahburu village in Khuntapani, said, "We ourselves store eggs and seeds, test them under a microscope and also produce disease-free cocoons which are in good demand."
"We also grow Arjuna and Asan plants in the fields to increase the production of Tasar. I have earned a net profit of nearly Rs 49,000 from last year's farming," Rani added.
Rajiv Kumar, CEO of the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society under the Rural Development Department, said the tribal women have set an example through Tasar production, for which the government provides necessary support and skills..