Tiruchirapalli, Aug 9: The Tamil Nadu government is planning to step-up the area under mulberry cultivation in the state by 10,000 acres this year, according to Harmander Singh, Commissioner, Sericulture.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Aug 8 evening, Mr Singh said Tamil Nadu had the fourth largest area (35,000 acres) under mulberry cultivation in the country and it produced 10,000 tonnes of cocoons a year.
Of late, the cocoon prices had improved and farmers could benefit from sericulture, he said.
An automatic silk reeling unit, established at Gobichettipalayam in Erode district with assistance from the Central Silk Board and the state government, would start functioning on Saturday, Aug 23.
While the Central Silk Board has provided a subsidy of Rs 50 lakh, the state has contributed Rs 15 lakh to the unit as part of the efforts to strengthen post-cocoon processing in the country. The private sector unit would have a capacity to produce 35 tonnes of fine quality white silk, mostly being imported from China.
He pointed out that the state had been sanctioned one more unit, which would come up at Udumalpet with the same amount of subsidy from the Central Silk Board and the State.
Steps were being taken to improve the cottage and multi-end reeling units to improve the quality of silk. About 15 reeling units run by the Sarvodya Sangh were provided with assistance for buying new machines. 15 others would get assistance for purchasing hot driers to preserve cocoons for a longer time before being processed.
To a question, he said during 2007-08, the department disbursed Rs 12 crore as subsidy to 10,000 farmers for raising plantations, constructing sheds, installing drip irrigation systems and buying equipment. This year, Rs 18 crore would be disbursed to an equal number of farmers.
To a question on the banks' hesitation to provide loans for sericulture, Mr Singh said the department, in association with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, would soon convene a meeting of managers of the lead banks in all districts to sensitise them on the scope for advancing loans. The bankers would also be taken on a field visit to convince them of the viability of the projects, he added.