Imphal, Nov 14: A Japanese team will be arriving here to oversee the progress of the ongoing Rs 490.59 crore Japan Sericulture Project in Manipur, state Sericulture Minister L Jayantakumar Singh informed.
The Minister said the Japanese team was expected in the last week of this month to see the progress of the project and start the second phase of the project involving technical support in the production of value-added silk.
The first phase of the project started in July 1998 after a loan agreement in December 1997 between the Government of India and Japan Bank of International Corporation, Manipur Information Centre officials said.
The Sericulture Minister said the construction of the Sericulture Office Complex, having multipurpose facilities like administrative building, dormitory, grainage, open cocoon market at Sangaipat in Imphal East district in Manipur was complete and it was ready for inauguration. It would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh soon, he added.
The first phase of the project, involving plantation of mulberry trees and nurturing silk worms, had also been completed.
Manipur is a unique state since four varieties of silk, namely mulberry, eri, muga and oak tasar, are produced here.
However, the production of quality silk has not been possible so far due to lack of infrastructure in the government farms and lack of equipment for the private rearers.
In order to provide self-employment and for development of rural economy by increasing silk production, the Department of Sericulture, Government of Manipur, implemented the Manipur Sericulture Project with assistance from the Government of Japan through the Government of India.
The first phase of the project started with an outlay of Rs 134.52 crore, including Rs 18.33 crore as state share in July 1998, focusing on two objectives, namely alleviation of poverty by giving self-employment to 30,720 youths, and increasing the production level of mulberry silk from 46 tonnes to 150 tonnes and eri silk from 160 tonnes to 168 tonnes.
The officials said two years back, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh assured full support for the Rs 490.59 crore Manipur Sericulture project, especially for marketing of value-added silk products in both domestic and international markets.
He also stated that the production of high quality bi-voltine silk in Manipur would fetch huge economic benefits for the state.
The Union Minister further asserted that the Government of India might also fund the setting up of a showroom in Varanasi for value-added silk products from Manipur and help the state set up marketing centre in Bangkok.