About Us | Contact Us | E-Paper

Turning waste into wealth

Post by on Monday, May 2, 2022

First slide

Silkworm is a monophagous insect which is fed only on mulberry leaves. The quality of mulberry leaf has a profound influence upon the quality and quantity of cocoon crop expected to be harvested per ounce of silkworm seed.

The quantity of leaf available in the field or with the farmer decides the magnitude or the quantum of rearing that a rearer/stakeholder can undertake giving due consideration to the space available with him.

Mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing continues to be money-spinner for farmers in Kashmir as more than 27,000 families are associated with sericulture industry and are as such deriving their livelihood out of it.

The practice of silkworm rearing is age old in Jammu and Kashmir and people continue to practice it as their profession and of course few of them also have passion for raising silk cocoons.

Notably, Sir Walter Lawrence who happened to be settlement commissioner of J&K probably during the fifties, in his book The Valley of Kashmir has mentioned that sericulture used to be the only occupation for Kashmiris and people who used to have mulberry trees in their courtyard were looked upon with pride.

Researchers at College of Temperate Sericulture which caters to research needs of temperate sericulture research under Sheri Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology of Kashmir have been working, over the years, on different techniques that have proven fruitful for mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing.

At the agriculture varsity, scientists have been able to convert the leftovers on farm and of farm waste into suitable products thus adding value to sericulture.

While talking to Prof (Dr.) M. F. Baqual, Associate Dean of the College, was given to understand that gone are the days when mulberry trees used to be exploited only for the purpose of its leaf being used for silkworm rearing.

He said that with the diversification of agriculture activities and with a view to add value to sericulture and generate more revenue for the farmers, there has been tremendous progress in converting leftover waste into suitable products irrespective of the type of waste, be it unused leaf, mulberry twigs, rearing waste, cut cocoon, pierced cocoons or defoliated leaf during the autumn season.

On-farm waste

During the course of mulberry cultivation which is an agricultural part of sericulture, a lot of on farm waste is generated in the shape of leaves, twigs, weeds which is also converted into suitable products like vermicompost etc.

“Even the leftover twigs are used for basket making. The vermicompost obtained through feeding earthworms on this waste is used for the enrichment of soil fertility for increased crop growth. Use of vermicompost is also incidentally a step towards organic farming which besides restoring the soil health also improves the quality of produce which is mulberry leaf,” Prof. Baqual said.

As against 20 MT of decomposed farmyard manure used per hectare per year, only six MT of vermicompost are used. “The leftover and the defoliated or senescent leaf is converted into fodder cakes after mixing with jaggery etc and is finally fed to livestock,” he said.

Off-farm waste

It is said that out of every hundred kilograms of leaf which is used as feed to silkworm, 40 percent is leftover waste in the shape of leaf bits, petioles and litter etc. which is also processed and put to use.

“The fecal matter of silkworms is called litter. Some valuable chemicals are extracted from it for pharmaceutical use and scientists of college are working on this through funded projects etc,” said Prof. Baqual.

For the purpose of seed production, the cocoons are cut open and the moths are allowed to emerge at ease and even some portion is retained and the moths are allowed to emerge and processed further for seed production.

However, the cut/perforated cocoons are processed and converted into flower bouquets, photo frames, garlands and other attractive products.

Pupal waste for poultry

Prof. Baqual said after cocoons are cut there remain leftover ones and once the silk is drawn out these cocoons you are left with one layer in which there is pupae which is supposed to be one of the best foods for poultry.

“Once the cocoons are reeled, the pupa is dried and used for poultry and fish meal as the best supplement because it has been observed that egg laying capacity and weight of birds shows improvement. It also adds to the quality of eggs compared to traditional methods of feeding,” he said.

He said from soil to silk there are a number of processes involved in it and during these processes different kinds of wastes are generated which are being used efficiently for increased returns.

“If we are able to convert the waste into wealth it is going to add to the income of sericulture farmers and improve the socio-economic status of the people involved with the silk industry,” he said.

Mulberry fruit

As per Prof. Baqual, mulberry plants also yield a good amount of fruit during the course of production and this fruit is also converted into valuable products like fruit jam, squash etc.

“We are also trying to identify different fruit bearing mulberry varieties for increased income generation,” he said.

Village Linked Program 

The college is also conducting some Village linked programs and under these programs all the technologies generated by the college are demonstrated before farmers so that they adopt these technologies for their increased produce and for final income augmentation.

These technologies are also disseminated to beneficiaries through different KVKs of the University falling under the Directorate of Extension.

“Once they see there is a perceptible change in the improvement of their crop, they become our ambassadors and spread the message to fellow farmers. This is how it gets transmitted to the ultimate beneficiaries,” Prof. Baqual said.

Latest Post