Silk rout: COVID, Chinese imports take the shine off Indian silk

Silk, silk cocoon, sericulture
Ever since the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed, sericulture farmers have been staring at diminishing prices for their silk cocoons | All Photos by Prabhu Mallikarjunan

About 50 km from Bengaluru, on the way to Mysore, lies the Ramanagara silk cocoon market, one of the largest in Asia. Farmers from across Karnataka gather here to sell their produce through a bidding process.

They arrange the cocoons in the bins allocated, as per different grades and qualities. Reelers who reel the cocoons together to produce silk threads arrive at the same time to inspect the texture and colour.

However, this time, the farmers realise that the market conditions are not good as the price has been continuously dropping since the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed. Low demand for textiles has led to around 60-70% drop in price in three months. The average price per kg of cocoon (cross breed) used to be ₹450-480. Now it is ₹150-160 per kg.

The bivoltine hybrid cocoons, a higher quality mulberry silk produced in India as an import substitute, traded a bit higher at ₹220 per kg in Karnataka. In neighbouring Tamil Nadu (Dharmapuri market), it fetched an even lower price, around ₹170 on July 20.

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