Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kashmir's Silk Industry on a Downward Spiral

Industrialization, myopic vision and greed are slowly eating into the vitals of indigenous arts and crafts

Kashmir’s Silk industry Heading Towards Doom

Sajad Kralyari (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Kashmir flagship industry of yesteryears, the silk industry is heading towards doom as number of farmers associated with silk rearing has reduced to less than one-fifth.

As against 2000 farmers who where associated with sericulture in every district two decades back, only 400 farmers are presently rearing silk worms in each district.

“Silk raring has shown a declining trend in the Valley during the past 20 years. Farmers were interested in this job but now educated youth are showing indifference to this trade,” said Seed Examiner at Directorate of Sericulture, Farooq Ahmad Ganai.

The decrease in rearing is also taking its toll on production that has reduced fast. There has been 70 per cent decline in cocoon production despite government providing subsidy and sops to the farmers for rearing silk cocoons. “In all, 7 lakh kilos of cocoons are produced by the farmers in Kashmir, which averaged around 25 lakh kilos, two decades back,” said Ganai.

The rearing of cocoon crop runs for one month only, which starts from the first week of May. The short duration for rearing is also believed to be one of the reasons that caused disinterest among farmers.

“One farmer has to occupy one kanal of land for growing mulberry trees. The land remains occupied for whole year while as the farmers have to do raring of the silk cocoons for just one month,” said Ganai. “They remain idle for 11 months.”

The farmers are provided all the necessary equipment by the government besides seeds and the expertise to encourage sericulture.

After rearing, the farmers hand over the cocoon to the department who call contractors from different states for the purchase of this product in the cocoon market at Srinagar.

“The contractors from West Bengal and Karnataka visit Kashmir in the month of July for purchase of silk cocoons who later process it for manufacturing,” said Ganai. “Earlier, the cocoon market was held in many districts and now it is held at the department only,” said Ganai.

The farmers also blame tough competition from other states as the reason for their disinterest.“This crop has low profit and is done only for one month. There is a high competition from other states also where contractors get cocoons at low rates,” said a farmer from Sopore.

The experts believe invasion of low cost silk yarn from China also led to the decrease in the demand of silk worms from the State besides heavy mortality rates of cocoons.

“Chinese silk yarn comes at a cheaper rate in Indian market due to which prices of silk cocoons produced locally slash down,” said Director Research SK University of Agriculture and Technology Kashmir A R Trag. Trag also said that mortality of the silkworm was high due to the improper rearing of the cocoons by the farmers.

“Farmers reared more seed than the space available which led to overcrowding. They also dry cocoon in open sunlight,” said Trag.

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