THANJAVUR: Farmers of the district, who have been bogged down by the Cauvery issue and truant monsoon, see sericulture as the best alternative to paddy as it has proved to be a profitable venture. Helped by Government subsidy, cocoon harvest every month, ready market, ryots prefer sericulture to any other alternative for paddy. Water consumption for mulberry upon which the silk worms thrive is also less. Water can be sprinkled for the mulberry to grow.
For three acres of mulberry grown, one shed is put up and 30,000 to 40,000 worms are reared in a month. Eggs are supplied by the Sericulture Department. Small worms, which come out of eggs on hatching, are allowed to thrive on mulberry leaves. Silk worms are voracious eaters of mulberry leaves and in 24 days the grown up insects build cocoon around themselves. The cocoon with the worm inside is marketed. One cocoon weighs two grams and a kg of cocoon is purchased by the Sericulture Department for Rs.100 to Rs.120 depending upon the quality.
Jessman Pandiyan, a progressive farmer, has taken up sericulture at the Abraham Pandithar farm within the town itself.
“I have grown mulberry on two acres. I have got Government subsidy for putting up sprinklers, shed and for purchasing appliances. I have invested Rs. 2 lakh and hope to make a good profit as marketing of cocoon is not a problem.”
Edward Arogyaraj, another farmer who has taken up sericulture on a large scale, has grown mulberry on 25 acres at Pudupatti in Budalur Panchayat Union and on 12 acres at Thuraundarkottai in Orathanadu taluk. He has seven sheds and is rearing silk worms for the past three years. “We can make a profit of Rs.12,000 to Rs.15,000 per acre. But worms are sensitive and they should be protected from disease. Production will be good in winter and less in summer,” he said.
N. Mahalingam, Junior Inspector, Sericulture Department, said that the investment is only one time for raising mulberry plants which provide the leaves for silk worms to eat and grow, putting up shed and purchasing other appliances.The Government is giving a subsidy of Rs.30,000 for putting up shed and Rs.15,000 for purchasing appliances and Rs.50,000 subsidy for putting up a sprinkler. In Thanjavur district, mulberry has been raised on 250 acres.