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Sericulture Industry in India A Review

India, Science and Technology: 2008

S&T for Rural India and Inclusive Growth

Sericulture Industry in India A Review

D. Gangopadhyay

The reduction of rural poverty continues to be a paramount goal of the developing countries like India as the majority of the poor population still resides in the countryside. The World Bank, for example, estimates that more than 70 % of the worlds poor live in rural areas. So far, various strategies have been pursued to address this concern and among the major ones is rural employment creation. The agriculture sector, however, has been contending with a number of factors that have limited its potential for generating new jobs in rural areas. Those factors may include the small land holding size, insufficient capital and investment incentives, the inadequate farm infrastructure, limited market and stagnant prices of agricultural products. It is therefore necessary to focus on a broader spectrum of the rural economy. The establishment of rural based industries like sericulture, in particular, can be very effective in creating new job opportunities and providing supplemental income. Being a rural agro-based labour intensive industry this sector can also play vibrant role in checking migration from rural to urban areas. In this article, the present status of the sericulture industry in India, its trends, position in global sericulture and science and technological achievements have been reviewed. Besides, some critical issues like potentiality of the sector in national economy, rural development, women empowerment and employment generation have been identified. An attempt has been made to draw a strategic model to strengthen and promote sericulture industry in India to enhance productivity and quality of silk etc. This article would be helpful in recognizing the potential, strength and challenges of the sericulture industry in India so as to formulate certain policies and measures for socio-economic development.


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Sericulture is both an art and science of raising silkworms for silk production. Silk as a weavable fiber was first discovered by the Chinese empress Xi Ling Shi during 2,640 B.C. and its culture and weaving was a guarded secret for more than 2,500 years by the Chinese. Silk was a profitable trade commodity in China. Traders from ancient Persia (now, Iran) used to bring richly coloured and fine textured silks from Chinese merchants through hazardous routes interspersed with dangerous mountainous terrains, difficult passes, dry deserts and thick forests. Though, commodities like amber, glass, spices and tea were also traded along with silk which indeed rapidly became one of the principal elements of the Chinese economy and hence, the trade route got the name SILK ROUTE. Even today, silk reigns supreme as an object of desire and fabric of high fashion. Being a rural based industry, the production and weaving of silk are largely carried out by relatively poor sections of the society and this aspect of sericulture has made it popular and sustainable in countries like China and India.

Sericulture Industry in India If fashion is a fine art, then silk is its biggest canvas, and if silk is the canvas, then all its weavers, dyers, designers, embroiderers are the greatest artists. Indian silk has enthralled fashion watchers and all categories of consumers across the world with its vast repertoire of motifs, techniques and brilliant hues. Indias traditional and culture bound domestic market and an amazing diversity of silk garments that reflect geographic specificity has helped the country to achieve a leading position in silk industry.
Present status: India is the second largest producer of raw silk after China and the biggest

consumer of raw silk and silk fabrics. An analysis of trends in international silk production suggests that sericulture has better prospects for growth in the developing countries rather than in the advanced countries. Silk production in temperate countries like Japan, South Korea, USSR etc., is declining steadily not only because of the high cost of labour and heavy industrialization in these countries, but also due to climatic restrictions imposed on mulberry leaf availability that allows only two cocoon crops per annum. Thus, India has a distinct advantage of practicing sericulture all through the year, yielding a stream of about 4 6 crops as a result of its tropical climate. In India, sericulture is not only a tradition but also a living culture. It is a farm-based, labour intensive and commercially attractive economic activity falling under the cottage and small-scale sector. It particularly suits rural-based farmers, entrepreneurs and artisans, as it requires low investment but, with potential for relatively higher returns. It provides income and employment to the rural poor especially farmers with small land-holdings and the marginalized and weaker sections of the society. Several socio-economic studies have affirmed that the benefit-cost ratio in sericulture is highest among comparable agricultural crops (Table 1).

Table1: Cost:Benefit analysis of mulberry sericulture and other competing crops. Mulberry sericulture




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Total input costs Gross returns Net returns CB ratio Crop period

48,659 96,132 47,476 1:1.98 1 year

30,575 60,200 29,625 1:1.97 1 year

29,610 55,317 25,707 1:1.02 4 5 months

Note: Data in Rs/acre/annum

Source: Dandin et al., presented at the 20th Conference of the International Sericulture Commission, Bangalore, December, 2005

Currently, the domestic demand for silk, considering all varieties, is nearly 25,000 MTs, of which only around 18,475 MTs (2006-07) is getting produced in the country and the rest being imported mainly from China. Indian domestic silk market has over the years been basically driven by multivoltine mulberry silk. Due to inferior quality of the silk produced, India could not meet the international quality standard. Though, R&D efforts have been made to improve the quality of multivoltine silk, even the best of multivoltine silk produced could not match the bivoltine silk in quality. Therefore, it is essential to enlarge the production base and improve current productivity levels of bivoltine silk to meet the international standards and quality demands of the power loom sector. Steps need to be taken to ensure that export oriented units having automatic state of the art weaving machinery.

India is a home to a vast variety of silk secreting fauna which also includes an amazing diversity of silk moths. This has enabled India to achieve the unique distinction of being a producer of all the five commercially traded varieties of natural silks namely, Mulberry, Tropical Tasar, Oak Tasar, Eri and Muga. Silk obtained from sources other than mulberry are generally termed as non-mulberry or Vanya silks. The bulk of the commercial silk produced in the world is mulberry silk that comes from the domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori L. which feeds solely on the leaves of the mulberry (Morus sp.) plant. Tasar silk is copperish in colour, coarse in nature and is mainly used for furnishing and interiors and secreted by the Tropical Tasar silkworm, Antheraea mylitta which thrives on Asan and Arjun (Terminalia sp.). Rearing is done on naturally growing trees in the forests and is the main stay for many tribal communities in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Oak Tasar is a finer variety of Tasar produced by the temperate Tasar silkworm, Antheraea proylei which feeds on natural oak plants (Quercus sp.) and is found in abundance in the sub-Himalayan belt. Eri silk is a silk spun from open-ended cocoons and secreted by the domesticated silkworm, Samia cynthia ricini that feeds mainly on castor leaves. Muga silk is golden yellow in colour and an exclusive
Types of silks in India:

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produce of India, primarily the state of Assam where it is the preferred attire during festivities. Muga silk is secreted by Antheraea assama that feeds on aromatic leaves of naturally growing Som (Persia bombycina) and Sualu (Litsea polyantha) plants. Variety-wise share of raw silk production during the year 2007-08 has been depicted in Figure 1.

Fig 1: Variety-wise raw silk production (2007-08)

Source: Indian Silk 47(5), 2008

Trends in Indian sericulture:

Over the last six decades Indian silk industry has registered an

impressive growth, both horizontally and vertically. Plans and schemes implemented by central and state agencies and relentless efforts of thousands of dedicated persons in the fields of research and extension have helped in this context. For instance, the age old multivoltine hybrids have been replaced by multivoltine bivoltine and bivoltine hybrids. The sericulture industry has witnessed a quantum jump in raw silk productivity. The average yield of 25 kgs of cocoons/100 dfls in the recent past has increased and currently the average yields are in the range of 60 65 kgs/100 dfls. The new technology, besides doubling yields has also led to qualitative improvements in cocoon production with considerably reduced renditta and has also helped break the climate barrier. Silk statistics of India is presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Silk statistics of India

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Year Particulars Unit 2002-03 Production of silk (Total) Mulberry Tasar Eri Muga Production of silk fabrics Silk Imports Mulberry acreage 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07








14617 284 1316 102

13970 315 1352 105

14620 322 1448 110

15445 308 1442 110

16525 350 1485 115



















Source: DGCIS, Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India.

The market share of Indian silk exports in the global silk trade is 4 5 % which is not significant considering the fact that India is the second largest producer of raw silk. This is because India has a large domestic market for silk goods and about 85 % of silk goods produced are sold in the domestic market. However, India exports approximately 15 % of its output of all types of silk goods (including value-added items). The export of Indian silk products consists of finished goods like fabrics, made-ups, ready-made garments and furnishing materials like curtains, carpets, bed spreads, cushion covers etc. The export of silk products has been showing a steady growth and the export earnings showed a rapid increase during the last decade (Figure 2).

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Fig 2: Year-wise silk export earnings

Source: DGCIS, Ministry of Commerce, GoI

Indian position in global sericulture: The global raw silk production was around 1,25,605 MTs in the year 2005-06, with China as the major player with 81.65 % share followed by India with around 14 % (Table 3). Though, Indian breeds/hybrids have the potential to produce the same quality, our system of sericulture practices is entirely different from those of the Chinese. The strict maintenance of discipline and better linkage from farmers to weavers, large-scale operation of egg production, reeling and weaving using modern machineries, strict control measures for diseases, uniform adoption of new technologies, supply of required quantity of quality eggs in time to avoid the chances of contamination of young silkworm etc. make the Chinese sericulture more vibrant, economically sound and sustainable. Another area of difference is that the entire production is state controlled with no open marketing/auction systems for silk cocoons and yarns. The comparative statistics (Table 4) indicate the strength of China in the areas of seed production and distribution system, higher unit area productivity and quality thus reducing the costs of production.

Table 3: World raw silk production 2000 China India 61648 15857 2001 64567 17351 2002 68600 16319 2003 94600 15742 2004 102560 16500

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Japan S. Korea Brazil Uzbekistan Thailand Vietnam Others Total

557 165 1389 1100 955 780 1952 84403

431 157 1485 1260 1510 2035 1692 90488

394 154 1607 1260 1510 2200 3814 95858

287 150 1563 950 1500 750 1500 117042

263 150 1512 950 1420 750 1500 125605

Note: Unit in Metric tons

Source: Sericulture and silk statistics, 2003, Silk industry at a glance (2005-06), Central Silk Board, Bangalore and Sericologia, Vol. 44 (3), 2004.

Table 4: Comparative mulberry sericulture statistics- China vis--vis India Parameter Area under mulberry (lakd ha.) Leaf yield (MTs/ha/yr) Races reared Egg production (crore dfls) China* India



25-30 All bivoltine 75.962

30-50 Mostly cross breeds 25.65 Majority supplied as eggs Throughout the year 5-6 8-12 (Split plot system) 1492

Supply syste,

Majority chawki reared

Time of supply


No. of crops per yea

2-3: Temperate 6-8: Tropical

Dfls brushed / ha / yr


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Cocoon yield (kg / 100 dfls) (2 boxes) Leaf cocoon raio (kg) Cocoon yield (kg / ha) Cocoon weight (g)



16-18 736.89 1.9-2.0

20-22 698.0 1.6-1.8 CB: 17-19 BV: 20-22 <1000 8.2 (6.9 for bivoltine) Un-graded to A grade

Cocoon shell percentage (%)


Filament length (m)




Grade of silk

A 4A

Cost of cocoon production (Rs. / kg) Prevailing cocoon price (Rs) Raw silk production (kg/ha/yr) Av. Crop loss / year (%)








10-15 Self consumption 30 % deficit 15445

Demand and supply position

90% Export

Raw silk produced (MTs / yr)


Source: *Li Long and Hu Zhuozhong, Indian Silk, May 2006.

Science, Technology and Sericulture Science and technology is used as an effective instrument of growth and change. It is being

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brought into the mainstream of economic planning in the sectors of agriculture, industry and services. The country's resources are used to derive the maximum output for the benefit of society and improvement in the quality of life. About 85 % of the funds for S&T come directly or indirectly from the Government. Central Silk Board (CSB), Bangalore under the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India is the apex body for overall development of sericulture and silk industry in India. The functions assigned to the Board are to promote development of the silk industry by all appropriate measures like undertaking, assisting and encouraging scientific, technological and economic research, improvement of mulberry cultivation, production and distribution of healthy silkworm seed, production of quality raw silk and promotion of silk market etc. In addition, the board is responsible for advising and reporting to the Govt. of India on all matters relating to the development of the raw silk industry, including the import and export of raw silk. Indian sericulture is not only vast, widely dispersed but also multidisciplinary in nature involving silkworm seed sector, cocoon sector (cultivation of food plants and silkworm rearing) and post cocoon sector (silk reeling, spinning, twisting, processing and weaving). Therefore, Central Silk Board, recently, is coordinating and implementing collaborative research activities in association with National level R&D Institutions, State Sericulture Research and Development Institutes, Universities, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, CSIR/ICAR/IARI/IITs/IIMs and other Private and International Research and Development Institutions to promote applied research and development of appropriate technology towards attaining higher quality and productivity levels of Indian silk. R&D achievements of CSB like technologies patented and commercialized are given in Table 5 and discussed below:

Table 5: Technologies patented during 1997-2002 by Central Silk Board S. No. 1.


Patent No. PAT/ /96039 PAT/ /96040 PAT/ /96041 PAT/ /96076 PAT/ /96085


Machine for crushing shoots

CSRTI, Mysore


Cocoon De-flossing Machine Machine for preparation of cutting Denier Detecting Device in Silk Reeling Reel Permeation ChamberHand-Operated Pedal Operated Reeling Cum Twisting Machine for Muga and Tasar Silk Reeling

CSRTI, Mysore


CSRTI, Mysore


CSTRI, Bangalore


CSTRI, Bangalore


PAT/ /96089

CSTRI, Bangalore

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Long Skein Silk Book Making Machine Composition and Process for Softening of Water Multi-fuel Economic Oven Machine An oven and adopted to used for Reeling of silk yarn A process for preparation of trap Uzi trap Bed Disinfectant for Silkworm RKO Vijetha a Bed Disinfectant

PAT/ /96097 PAT/ /96098 PAT/ /96099 PAT/ /96100 PAT/ /96103 PAT/4.4.18/96150 PAT/ /96151 PAT/ /96152 PAT/ /96153 PAT/ /96154 PAT/ /98100 PAT/ /98103 PAT/ /99015 PAT/4.3.6./99033 PAT/4.3.20/99038 PAT/4.3.12/99049 PAT/4.3.19/99062

CSTRI, Bangalore


CSTRI, Bangalore


CSTRI, Bangalore


CSTRI, Bangalore


CSRTI, Mysore


CSRTI, Mysore


CSRTI, Mysore


Bio-fungicide A Process for preparation of TRID NUTRID A Process for prep. of Phytosone extracted from plant material Grainage Tray Nursery Technique for Raising T. arjuna seedling Machine for pruning of Mulberry plant Fly Trap Raksha Rekha Trademark Registration Low Cost Environator Silkworm Egg Box

CSRTI, Mysore


CSRTI, Mysore


CSRTI, Mysore


CTRTI, Ranchi


CTRTI, Ranchi

19 20 21 22 23

CSRTI, Mysore CSRTI,Berpore CSRTI, Mysore CSRTI, Mysore CSRTI,Berpore

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Light Weight Rearing Tray Resham Jyoti Trademark Registration Labex Tasar Chawki Nylon Net Integrated Package for rearing tasar silkworm Phyllanica for uniform and advanced maturity in silkworm

PAT/4.3.121 /99073 PAT/4.19.20 /99130 -


25 26 27 28

SSTL, Kodathi CSRTI,Berpore CTRTI, Ranchi CTRTI, Ranchi



Source: Central Silk Board R & D achievements during the IXth plan period.

Mulberry Improvement

1. High yielding mulberry varieties like V-1 (leaf yield-70MT/ha/yr), G-4 (9% more than V-1); G-2 and G-5 (20% - 30% more than existing S36 i.e., 45MT/ha/yr). 2. Moisture stress rainfed improved mulberry varieties like AR-10 and AR-11 (15-20 % more yield than existing S-13 i.e., 10-12MT/ha/yr), C-1730 (leaf yield-13.3 MT/ha/yr and suitable to red lateratic soil of West Bengal) like AR-12 and AR-14 (alkaline 3. Alkaline and saline tolerant improved mulberry varieties tolerant; 15-20% more yield than existing S-34), C776 (saline tolerant with yield potential 37/MT/ha/yr suitable for West Bengal). 4. Water stress triploid mulberry variety like S-1635 during rainy season in high rainfall areas of West Bengal and Assam. It has a potential to yield 6225 kg/ha/crop. 5. Shade tolerant mulberry variety like K2 x Kosen for cultivation under mulberry-coconut tree intercropping with potential yield of around 44 MT/ha/yr. 6. Low fertilizer input and better yield mulberry varieties like RC1 and RC2 (low fertilizer inputs i.e., 50% fertilizers and 40 % irrigation and 10 20 % more leaf yield than V1 variety). 7. Low cost tender mulberry shoot propagation using dried sugarcane leaf in place of white polythene sheet as cover. Under the Development of economically viable module of mulberry plantation intercropping with Lentil recorded a maximum yield with a return of Rs. 10,800/crop.

Mulberry Productivity

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1. Paired row system [(90 +150) x 60 cm] of mulberry propagation with 350:140:140 Kg NPK/ha/yr and 20 MT/ha of FYM under irrigated condition for higher leaf productivity and improvement in leaf quality. 2. Moisture conservation technique of mulberry propagation with 90 x 90 cm spacing and NPK @ 100:50:50 Kg/ha/yr for improved the leaf quality and higher yield. Evaluation of micro-jet system recorded an optimum yield of 64 MT/ha/yr, followed by micro-tubing systems (63 MT/ha/yr) like PC Dripper and in-line system of drip irrigation to save 40% irrigation water. 3. Package of practices for the cultivation of mulberry in alkaline soils like 90 x 90 cm plant spacing, application of 40 MT press mud and fertilizer at 250:120:90 kg NPK/ha/yr. 4. In-situ vermi-compost supplemented with 50% recommended dose of NPK fertilizer to improve soil organic carbon content without affecting leaf yield and leaf quality. 5. Application of phosphate solubilizing bacteria (Bacillus megatherium) along with rock phosphate to mulberry garden to increase leaf yield by 1.8 MT/ha/yr with a net saving of Rs. 1745/ha/yr towards phosphate fertilizer cost. 6. Application of Azotobacter biofertilizer supplemented with 50% nitrogenous fertilizer along with foliar application of n-Triacontanol twice @ 125 ml/ 600 lt. water. The leaf productivity remained on par with full dose application of nitrogen fertilizer application. The cost benefit ratio of 1:1.98 indicates the positive response of the technology. Over 32 thousand farmers recorded an average increase in leaf yield by 15-20 %. 7. Seri-boost- Triacontanol based micronutrient formulation for spaying (@ 2.5 ml/l water twice per crop) to enhance leaf yield by 10-15%. Inoculation of Vesicular - Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (VAM) fungi to mulberry roots to help supplementation of phosphate fertilizers by 75%. Spraying of plant growth regulators like Maleic hydrazide (MH) and 2 - Chloroethyl trimethyl ammonium chloride @ 5 to 100 ppm to improve leaf yield by 2-10% marginally.

Mulberry Protection

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Raksha (Trichoderma harzianum) to control the root rot disease. Nursery-Guard (Trichoderma pseudokoningii) to prevent nursery disease. Bionema (Verticillium chlamydosporium) to reduce root knot disease. Neem formulation to suppress leaf roller infestation. Acaciacide (an eco-friendly bio-nematicide) to reduce root gall and incidence of tukra disease. Ethanolic extracts of Eucalyptus to supressMyrothecium leaf spot disease. Aqueous ethanolic extracts of two Cassia species to reduce powdery mildew disease. Eco-friendly technology involving a bio-nematicide and neem oil cake for the control of root knot nematode disease results to increase leaf yield and additional income of Rs. 7300/ha/yr. 9. Growth promoting bacteria Azotobacter chroococcum, Bacillus megaterium and Pseudomonas fluorescens toinduce systemic resistance in mulberry against leaf spot and leaf rust diseases.

Integrated Pest Management and Disease Control

1. Cost-effective integrated package comprising of biological agents (Cryptolaemus montrouzierie), mechanical removal of affected parts and chemical measures (0.2 % DDVP) for effective management of mealy bug causing tukra a serious disease results in a leaf yield loss up to 30 %. Adoption of IPM in three southern sericulture states, covering 1105 ha of

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mulberry plantation led to 67% pest suppression and 62% disease loss. 2. IPM for management of Leaf roller (Diaphania pulverulentalis) includes spraying of DDVP and release of egg parasitoids Trichogramma chilonis and pupal parasitoid Trichogramma howardii. 3. IPM for management of Whitefly (Bemisia spp) includes use of chemical pesticides and botanicals like 0.05% Acephate, 0.05% Monocrotophos, 1% Rakshak and 0.1% Dichlorvos as well as release of natural predators of whitefly viz., Brumoides suturalis, Micraspis discolor, Micraspis crocea and Serengium persesstosum to reduce pest population below economic threshold Limit up to 14 days.

Silkworm Improvement

1. Productive Bivoltine hybrids like CSR2 x CSR4 and CSR2 x CSR5 (shell ratio- >23.0%; raw silk -19-20%; average cocoon yield- 70-80kg /100 dfls; renditta-5.2 to 5.5 and silk grade-3A to 4A), CSR12 x CSR6, CSR3 x CSR6, CSR16 x CSR17, CSR3 x CSR6 and CSR16 x CSR17 (average cocoon yield of 60-70kg /100; raw silk-18- 20% and silk grade-2A to 3A) for commercial exploitation during favorable months during September to February. like CSR18 x CSR19 and 2. Robust Bivoltine hybrids of relatively temperature tolerant Chamaraja (survival- >80 % @ 361C; average cocoon yield-60 70 kg/100 dfls; renditta5.5 to 6.0 and silk grade- 2A to 3A) for rearing throughout the year. 3. Double hybrid for high egg recovery like (CSR6 x CSR26) x (CSR2 x CSR27) for rearing foundation crosses at P1 level for high egg recovery (10 15 % more). like CSR48 x CSR5 (filament length- >1300m; thin 4. Bivoltine hybrid for longer filament filament size-2.45d; relatively tolerant to high temperature-77% survival @ 361C and 855% RH; low boil-off loss-23.8%). like CSR21 x CSR16 (raw silk: 20.9%; 5. Productive bivoltine hybrids with high silk content survival- >80% @ 36 1C and 855 % RH; high level of cocoon uniformity- SD 7.2 and low boil-off ratio-23.6%). 6. Bivoltine hybrid of shorter larval duration and superior characters like SD7 x SD12 (larval duration-28 h; pupation rate- >90%, cocoon weight- 2.076 g and shell ratio- 24.4%). like CSR48 x CSR5 of thin filament size, CSR2A x 7. Bivoltine hybrid of superior characters CSR4A and BL-67A x CSR 101 for artificial diet during chawki worm stages, 1HT x 7HT, 2HT x 6HT and 8HT x 5HT tolerant to high temperature (3610C), high humidity (855 %) and resistance to BmNPV and BmIFV @ 1x105 PBOs/ml. The above hybrids are characterized with superior qualitative and quantitative characters like higher cocoon yield, higher renditta and gradable silk etc. 8. Productive Multivoltine x Bivoltine hybrids like Cauvery and Jayalakshmi (average cocoon yield- 60-70 kg/100 dfls; survival-90-95 %; shell ratio- 20 - 22%; renditta- 5-6; silk grade2A to 3A) for commercial exploitation under irrigated areas throughout the year. 9. Region specific productive Multivoltine x Bivoltine hybrids like BL23 x NB4D2 (26 kg /100 dfls with 8.5 renditta) under rain fed and BL24 x NB4D2 (47 kg /100 dfls and 7.5-8 renditta) under irrigated condition with gradable silk of 3A. 10. Season specific productive Multivoltine x Bivoltine hybrids like for spring season (CSR6 x Pam101, Pam101 x A70, RSJ13 x RSJ15 and RSJ14 x RSJ11), summer season (Pam 111 x B72 and A70 x CSR6), and autumn season (A70 x CSR6, Pam 112 x A60, RSJ3 x RSJ1 and RSJ3 x RSJ4). 11. Sex limited Multivoltine x Bivoltine hybrids like PM x CSR8 (SL) for separation of male / female pupa through cocoon color in grainages. Four sex-limited colored bivoltine breeds viz.,

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SL4, SL5, SL6 and SL7 for better productive traits like >90 percentage pupation and 22% SR this male Bivoltine component with multivoltine females minimizes the production cost of Cross Breed layings.

Silkworm Productivity

1. Multi-bivoltine hybrids of higher feed conversion efficiency like BL68 x CSR5. 2. Promising Bivoltine hybrids with higher performance at field level like CSR2 x CSR5, CSR2 x CSR4 and CSR18 x CSR19 (average cocoon yield- 56 and 70 kg/100 dfls; renditta- 6-6.5; silk grade- 2A 4A). 3. Evaluation of season specific hybrids showed maximum shell ratio of 23.63% in CSR2 x YS3 out of 113 hybrids reared during spring 2001; and Pam109 x KY1 recorded maximum shell ratio of 22.13% out of 91 reared in autumn. Among the multivoltine hybrids evolved, hybrids namely Sharavati, Cauvery and Tippu have a potential to yield about 70 kg/100 dfls with a filament length of 900 m and silk grade of 2A-3A. 4. Application of Phyto-ecdysteroid on CSR hybrids to shorten rearing period and completes spinning within 18 hr after mounting against 26 to 47 hr under normal rearing conditions. 5. Semi synthetic artificial diet for rearing young age silkworms. 6. Improved Tropical Bivoltine silkworm rearing technology package for young and late age worms together with proper incubation method for successful crop.

Silkworm Protection

1. Sandwich ELISA assay for detection of pebrine spores up to a concentration of 10 4 /ml. using polyclonal antibodies (from Rabbit) and monoclonal antibodies (from mouse) MA-575. 2. Silkworm body disinfectant like Vijetha, Vijetha Supplement and Resham Jyothi to prevent disease outbreak. 3. Uzicide - an ovicide against Uzi fly and Uzi trap - a chemical formulation to trap the adult flies to control the menace of uzi (a major pest of silkworm) infestation. for the control of Uzi fly through Nesolynx thymus along with 4. IPM technology package Uzicide and Uzitrap. Dermestid beetles causing damage to seed cocoons in grainages be controlled by mechanical removal of grubs / adults and spraying Deltamethrin (0.03%) in the cocoon storage rooms. An insecticidal based chalk stick developed against ant attack in rearing house. 5. Simple staining technique for effective detection of intermediary stages of N. bombycis (Pebrine spores) in larval mid-gut tissue. 6. Eco-friendly and biodegradable chemical based bed disinfectants utilizing 7 plant products and 4 eco-friendly products for effective management of common pathogens of silkworm.

Silkworm Rearing Technology Innovation

1. Egg transportation bag provides optimum environmental conditions during transportation of silkworm eggs. 2. Low cost incubation device for the incubation of silkworm eggs. 3. Loose egg incubation frame toprovide optimum environmental conditions duringincubation

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4. 5.


7. 8. 9.

for loose eggs, these frames are also useful during incubation, black boxing and brushing. Adopted in all NSSP / DOS grainages engaged in bivoltine egg production. Blue polythene sheet during chawki rearing to reduce leaf drayage and reduce leaf input cost. Wrap up method to avoid moisture loss (all four sides of the paraffin paper are folded from the rearing bed to increase humidity by 15-20%). This technique gives an additional 3-4 kg more cocoons per 100 dfls at no extra cost. A simple device for preservation of chawki leaf (made of a rectangular bamboo tray, bamboo mat and a central funnel) in which chawki leaves can preserve for 10-12 hours without any deterioration in leaf quality and leaf drayage. Plastic bottlebrush mountage to help silkworm to mount itself thereby save 40% time towards labour. Jobarai method of mounting to save 20% time towards labour for mounting silkworms manually and harvest quality cocoons. Nylon net rearing technique for tasar silkworm larvae has been devised.

Innovations in Sericultural Machines

1. Mulberry Pruning Machine attached to power tiller to prune 15 cm dia. stumps from one acre of mulberry plantation in 5 hr. 2. Machine for preparation of Cuttings to facilitate quick preparation of cuttings @ 2000 cuttings/ hour. 3. Shoot crushing Machine to crush shoots into small bits / pieces @ 250 300 kg shoots/ hour. 4. Litter separator machine for separation of left over leaves and litter for use in biogas plant. 5. Cocoon De-flossing Machine to de-floss cocoons @ 60 kg/day against manual de-flossing of 10 12 kg/day. 6. Powder duster to dust disinfectants over silkworm body in prevention of silkworm diseases.

Non-Mulberry Host plant and Silkworm

1. Standardization and recommendation of micro propagation technique for Terminalia arjuna cultivation. Six strains of Antherea proylei was evolved and 82 genotypes of Terminalia arjuna and T. tomentosa were screened for genetic selection of high yielding ones. 2. Survey and collection of wild tasar cocoons from various eco-regions of Bihar yielded five promising eco-races. 9 biotypes, 4 evolved lines and 3 mutant lines were evolved based on Blue, Yellow and Almond colour. Raily, Modal and Daba as well as 3 hybrid combinations Sarihan x Laria, Sarihan x Daba and Laria x Modal were identified as best hybrids for most of the commercial characters. 3. Adoption of seed cocoon selection procedure and use of cooling device to reduce preservation loss upto 14.8% in Trivoltine [TV] and 21.1% in Bivoltine [BV] breeds. The mating percentage of moths rose to 93.9% in Trivoltine [TV] and 94.7% in Bivoltine [BV]. Overall, the egg production increased to 49.3% in TV and 60.1% in BV. 4. Egg laying nylon bag where the average ovipositor period is 178 hr and fecundity of 48 hr. Female moth preservation frame designed and fabricated to prevent pre-mating ovipositor, up to 20 hr without any loss of eggs.

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5. New moth examination technique for pebrine detection through pricking method developed over the conventional method of moth crushing and discarding. 6. Integrated Tasar Rearing Technology Package includes incubation, brushing of neonate larvae, feeding and guarding young and late age larvae against diseases, pest and predators. 7. Ideal grainage house and techniques for Tasar egg production. 8. Tasar Keet ousadh for control of Tasar silkworm disease was developed. 9. Comprehensive package for chawki garden maintenance to enhance production. 10. Sun-pack collapsible mountages for indoor cocoon spinning for quality cocoons. 11. Foliar spray with desired level of bacteria during rearing consistently to reduce virosis and bacteriosis and significant gain in effective rate of rearing. 12. Neem based compound (Azadiractin) against pest of silkworm larvae. 13. Integrating cultural, mechanical and active compound of neem derivatives as suitable control measures against major defoliators of primary tasar food plants. 14. Biological control measure against Uzi fly includes - nucleus culture of N. thymus, Tetrastichus howardi, Trichopria spp., Dirhinus spp. and Brachymeria lasus maintained on the puparia of uzi fly. 15. Nursery technique for raising of som (Machilus bombycina) seedlings. 16. Oviposite device for muga silkworms.

Post Cocoon Technology

1. Biopril-50 a substitute for dry reeling reeled on Tasar Reeling Charkha (TRC); spinning of tasar silk waste, blends with the fibers on pedal spinning wheel and NMC along with improved preparatory processes of weaving were transferred for commercial use. 2. Standardization of tasar cocoon processing / cooking technologies of different commercial cocoons on TRC and Motorized /Pedal operated reeling cum twisting machine. 3. Multi-fuel smokeless economic oven reeling machine an improved charaka and multi-end reeling machine capable of producing gradable silk of A-B grade. in light and medium weight range in all silk and combination of 4. Silk knitted fabrics Silk-Cotton and Silk-Modal yarn. The blends have silk on the face of the fabric and cotton or modal yarn on the inside/back of the fabric, combining the luxury of silk and comfort of cotton, at the same time reducing the cost of the fabric substantially. 5. Dupion silk reeling machine and technology package for production of superior grade dupion raw silk (CSTRI, Bangalore). The advantages of the new dupion silk reeling technology arehigher renditta in multivoltine cocoons, less de-gumming loss, improve quality character of dupion raw silk produced and economics of the technology indicate profitability than that of conventional technology. These models can cater the needs of small-scale charka reelers and reelers who have better facilities like boiler and cooking equipments. 6. Bivoltine silk reeling technology package to produce International grade raw silk suitable to Indian conditions. In addition, long skein book making machine, reel permeation chamber, stationery pressurized cooking and pressing disc etc. developed by CSTRI, Bangalore demonstrated in the reeling units.


1. Identification of DNA marker for NPV resistance in silkworm

through multi-institutional net

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work project (CDFD, Hyderabad and CSB/state level institutions). 2. Identification of DNA markers linked to QTLs (cocoon weight and cocoon shell weight) through collaborative project. Code for anti-viral (BmNPV) protein partially characterized. 3. Genetic linkage map for the silkworm established employing 518 simple sequence repeat or microsatellite markers. 4. Large numbers of Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) have been made available to the scientific community (as India joined International Consortium on Lepidoperon Genomics) both for mulberry and non-mulberry silk. 5. High yielding productive silkworm hybrids (viz., Swarnandhra, Hemavathy and Kalpavatharavu) developed using DNA marker technology and released to farmers of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. 6. Luciferase and green fluorescent proteins were successfully expressed utilizing silkworm as a bioreactor (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore). 7. Process for degumming of silk with fungal protease enzyme has been standardized and found economically viable without chemical hazardous. 8. Mapping populations of mulberry for water use efficiency and genotyping of trait-specific mapping population of mulberry is under progress. 9. Transgenic mulberry lines with HVA-1 gene for abiotic stress tolerance have been developed (University of Delhi). Field evaluation has been initiated jointly with sericulture institute.

Potential, strengths and challenges of sericulture industry in India R&D achievements like development of indigenous mulberry varieties with highest leaf yields in the world, new bivoltine silkworm hybrids eminently suited to the tropical regions of the country, farmer-friendly technologies, cost-effective new package of practices for cultivation of food plants, rearing and reeling coupled with huge natural and man-made resources and trained manpower clearly indicates the future prospects of sericulture industry to emerge as a promising indicator of economic development for the upliftment of the socially deprived communities and the downtrodden. The strengths, weakness, opportunities and challenges (SWOT analysis) of Indian silk industry have been given in Table 6.

Table 6: SWOT analysis of the Indian silk industry





Large production base, availability of skills, land and labour.

Gaps in technology transfer and extension support.

Generation of rural employment and reduction of migration to urban areas.

Falling international prices and heavy dumping from China at low prices.

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Established infrastructure, availability of silkworm breeds / hybrids. Low investment, short gestation period and higher returns.

Inadequate market accessibility, poor linkage among different stake holders. De-centralized nature of the industry inhibits financial institute from extending financial support to the sector.

Liberalization policies of Govt. of India in line with WTO Agreements.

Unpredictability of Chinas silk policies.

Reduction of production of silk even by traditional silk countries like Japan, USSR etc.

Inability of the silk industry to react and adopt to the changing needs in terms of quality both for the domestic and export markets.

Easily adoptable technologies and strong domestic demand-pull.

Lack of quality based pricing system in the market, frequent price fluctuations and large scale imports from China at low prices.

Garment exports are on a steady increase with huge employment opportunities.

Lack of awareness in the domestic market to respond to the demanddriven milieu.


Among 34 mega biodiversity countries in the world, India is home to many

species of insects with a diverse silk moth fauna. In addition to the diverse silkworm races, there are vast genetic resources of mulberry, tasar, muga and eri host plants spread over diverse geographical locations. This offers a great opportunity for economic utilization of the natural flora and fauna. However, due to deforestation and destruction of habitats, there is a challenge to bring about development without disturbing the ecological balance.

Sericulture and national economy:

In India, sericulture related activities ensure the livelihood

security of over six million families spread over in some 59,000 villages across the country. The silk sector is also a valuable foreign exchange earner for the country. The export earnings stood at Rs. 3,338 crores during 2006-07. In addition, there is an opportunity to double the export earnings with the free trade atmosphere in Europe and USA. It is estimated that India needs 25,000 MT of raw silk per year to meet its domestic requirement. The growing demand of silk in the domestic market can make the industry a valuable enterprise which in turn can provide employment for the rural masses ensuring assured economic returns at the individual family level.

Sericulture and women empowerment:

Women contribute to a little less than 50 % of the

countrys population and most of them are largely rural based, deriving their livelihood through

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agriculture and other land based activities, either as family members or wage earners. As a cottage industry, sericulture provides ample wok for women in the rural areas particularly in silkworm rearing and reeling, while men, largely work in the field and in weaving. The involvement of women in different activities of sericulture is about 53 % and their contribution in the on-farm activities understandably is lower than that in post-cocoon activities (Table 7). Sericulture is an ideal avocation for women because of the following factsBeing rural based, sericulture needs less specialized skill and hence, suits women well. Involves mostly indoor activities, less physical energy and manual labour. Work is evenly spread over during the day, with intermittent gaps, offering leisure time and proximity to living place. Minimum investment with long life and short gestation period. Continuous job with frequent income and scope for utilizing several by-products for value addition.

Table 7: Involvement of women in different Sericultural activities Involvement of women (%) 20.46 49.55 49.67 48.81 80.00 56.34 49.02 41.00 65.00 75.00

Sl. No.


No. of districts

No. of villages

Sericulture families

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Silkworm seed production Mulberry cultivation Silkworm rearing Silk reeling Silk spinning Silk throwing (twisting) Silk weaving Dyeing Printing of silk yarn and fabrics Silk bye-products Silk and Milk production

10 07 07 06 02 04 06 04 01 04

14 14 14 13 20 06 12 06 08 15

082 422 422 392 200 096 267 071 050 300

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Total / Overall





Source: Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute, CSB, Mysore

Sericulture and rural development:

Sericulture being a farm-based enterprise is highly suited for

both large and small land holdings, with low capital investment. The very nature of this industry with its rural based on-farm and off-farm activities and enormous employment generation potential has attracted the attention of many planners and policy makers to recognize the industry as one of the most appropriate avenues for socio-economic development of a largely agrarian economy like ours. Generally, silk goods are purchased by the urban rich and middle-class consumers and it is estimated that around 57 % of the final value of silk fabrics flows back to the primary producers in rural areas. Sericulture can also play a very vital role in alleviating rural poverty due to its high work participation rate and thereby can check migration from rural to urban areas.

Sericulture and employment generation:

The percentage of population below the poverty line

ranges from 47.15 % in Orissa to 12.72 % in Kerala. In major silk producing states it is about 30 % on an average (Table 8). Raw silk production is the most appropriate tool to provide gainful employment to these poorer sections of the society, as net incomes range from Rs. 12,000 to 70, 000 per annum depending upon the variety of the silk to be produced and the unit area (under host plants). It is estimated that sericulture can generate employment @ 11 man-days per kg of mulberry raw silk production (in on-farm and off-farm activities) through out the year (Table 9).

Table 8: State-wise status of below-poverty-line families (1999-2000) % population below poverty line 25.02 37.43 47.15 21.12 31.15 27.02


% population below poverty line 15.77 36.09 42.60 14.07 20.04 12.72


Andhra Pradesh Assam Bihar Gujarat Karnataka Kerala

Maharashtra Madhya Pradesh Orissa Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh West Bengal

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Source: Planning Commission Report, Article: K. Venkatasubramanian.

Table 9: Activity-wise employment generation in Mulberry sericulture (per ha.) Employment generation Activity Man-days A. Mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing a. Mulberry cultivation b. Leaf / shoot harvesting c. Silkworm rearing Sub-total B. Reeling of silk cocoons @ 300 mandays per 1000 kgs of reeling cocoons (@ 8.0 renditta; 760 kgs cocon / ha.; 95 kgs raw silk / ha.) Total (A + B) C. Twisting @ 220 g of silk per mandays D. Weaving Handloom @ 0.13 kg per manday Powerloom @ 0.3125 kg per manday Sub-total (Weaving) 438 122 560 1.752 0.486 2.238 432 1.727 585 320 350 1255 5.020 Man-years





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E. Printing and Dyeing @ 40 mandays for 40 kg of raw silk F. Finishing @ 751 mandays for 40 kf of raw silk G. Silk waste processing @ 18.775 mandays per kg of raw silk Total (C to G) Grand Total 26 2896 6431
Source: Central Silk Board, Bangalore.





0.104 11.58 26

Sericulture and higher remuneration:

Sericulture as a remunerative crop can suit all categories of

farmers from small/marginal farmers with meager resources to a large farmers. With short gestation periods, the returns are quick. The net returns in case of mulberry sericulture (when a farmer has one acre of mulberry plantation using family labor), is estimated at about Rs. 48,000 per annum. Mulberry is highly amenable to inter-cropping. Economics of mulberry with intercropping of vegetable for 3,700 sq. meters is given in Table 10.

Table 10: Economics of mulberry as an inter-crop with vegetables Crop combination Mulberry + Palak Mulberry + Methi Mulberry + Raddish Mulberry + Beans Additional income (Rs.) 17422 6026 3869 4953

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Source: CSR&TI, CSB, Mysore

Sericulture and new emerging areas (value addition and product diversification):

It is imperative

that adequate thrust on non-traditional uses of silk could create a positive pressure in the sector to concentrate on high quality raw material for high value addition leading to a quantum leap forward. The non traditional areas are: 1. Medical application Artificial skin Artificial blood vessels Artificial bone Suture threads 2. Cosmetics such as facial masks, dermal lotions, powders etc. 3. Liquid silk 4. Interior home decor and handicrafts Wall papers Lampshades

Conclusion Silk is a highly valued textile fiber of animal origin. It is used almost entirely for the production of high quality textiles. The sericulture industry is unique for more than one reasons. It is based on agricultural output viz., cocoons and cottage based labour intensive in nature. The industry comprises of reeling, silk preparatory and weaving, silk knitting, silk wet and processing consisting of degumming, dyeing, printing and finishing besides garment manufacturing. These activities in turn support the ancillary enterprises of marketing, manufacture and by-product utilization comprising of spun silk yarn manufacture and papae oil extraction. Thus, a lot of value is added to the product at each stage of the industry.

Reeling forms a vital link in converting the agricultural produce viz., cocoons into an industrial output yarn. Reeling involves a series of intricate processes while converting the cocoons into raw silk. The reeling sector in India is cottage based and highly decentralized, employing a variety of reeling devices viz., charkha, cottage and domestic basins, semi-automatic, automatic and multi-end reeling machinery. Generally, at the village level, there are charakhas which accounts nearly 50 % of the total raw silk production in the country. The charkha silk yarn though of poor quality has a distinct identity in the market and is generally associated with bulkiness and preferred as weft yarn largely by the handloom weavers. Central Silk Technological Research Institute,

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Central Silk Board, Bangalore Multi-end reeling machinery package (an improvement over the cottage basin) was introduced as the most appropriate technology to handle the available quality of cocoons to produce gradable quality raw silk. In the intermediate level, there are domestic basins and cottage basin reeling devices while at upper end there are multi-end reeling machines, semi-automatic and automatic reeling machines. In weaving sector, about 70 % raw silk is consumed by the handlooms while the power looms consume only 30 %. Thus, the pre-requisite of silk industry is availability of raw silk of right quality in adequate quantities at competitive prices consistently. Therefore, it is important to link such units with identified cocoon growers. Such units may also think of procuring the raw material through a system of contract or corporate farming.

Some initiatives like cocoon testing in some select markets, raw silk testing in the silk conditioning and test houses and technical service centres across the county by the Central Silk Technological Research Institute, Central Silk Board, Bangalore has created visible impact to bring awareness about quality among the rearers, reelers and weavers. This is important to achieve quality silk of international standard. Recently, Central Silk Board has started a testing laboratory for Silk and Zari at Kancheepuram to facilitate customers, producers and other stakeholders for spot testing of silk and zari material without any destruction to the products by x-ray analysers. More importantly, Silk Mark Scheme is introduced by Silk Mark Organisation of India (SMOI), a registered society, sponsored by Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The Silk Mark is a quality assurance label for the assurance of pure silk and in addition serves as a brand for generic promotion of Pure Silk. The Silk Mark is under the process of registration as a Trade Mark.

Indian silkworm breeds are multivoltine (i.e., they produce several broods a year) and though, good progress has been achieved in cross breed (multivoltine x bivoltine) silk production, the quality still remains incomparable to that of Chinese breeds which are bivoltine. In spite of abundant natural resources, socio-economic benefit of the sector like generation of employment for the large sections of tribals and marginalized rural men and women, growing export market as well as large domestic demand, a variety of problems have kept Indian sericulture away from achieving its true potential. These may include unhygienic conditions and diseases prevalent during silkworm rearing, mediocre quality of silkworm breeds and sub-optimal processing technology, lack of proper seed organization system and poor quality seed production, low technology adoption by the stakeholders, inadequate/poor extension efforts, age-old practices of post-cocoon operations, absence of quality certification and quality-linked pricing system and poor linkages among the four production sub-systems viz., seed, cocoon, yarn and fabric. In this context, some possible approaches have been suggested below and a strategic model has been outlined in Fig. 3. Evolution of appropriate cost-effective technologies through focused research projects addressing constraints and maximizing the production of quality eggs. Teaming up of sericulture scientists with molecular biologists, bio-engineers, immunologists, textile technologists, clinicians, experts from industry and a host of other stakeholders in charting out a new road map. Adoption of region and season specific approaches in the development of superior breeds / hybrids and feed package of practices. Establishment of close linkage between forward and backward sub-systems for greater efficiency and synergy as sericulture and silk industry is highly scattered and unorganized. Identification and promotion of potential clusters for Bivoltine and Vanya silk production in

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potential traditional and non-traditional areas. Skill up-gradation through structured and specially designed training programmes. Establishment of linkages among the four identified production sub-systems viz., seed, cocoon, yarn and fabric. Capacity building for production and supply of adequate quality planting material, silkworm seed, reeling cocoons and silk yarn through promotion of large-scale production units with required techno-financial support. Development and promotion of participatory extension system for effective adoption of technologies by similar stakeholders. Protection to some extent of Indian silk market from Chinese cheap raw silk and fabrics by implementation of anti-dumping duty. Effective utilization of by-products for value addition.

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Fig 3: A strategic model to strengthen and promote sericulture industry in India

References Annual Report of Central Sericultural, Research and Training Institute, Central Silk Board, Mysore.

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Indian Silk, Vol. 47(5), 2008. Md. Aslam (2008) Adding value. Biotech News, Vol. III (5), p. 9. Planning Commission Report, Article by Dr. K. Venkatasubramanian, Member, Planning Commission, Proceeding of the 20th Conference of the International Sericulture Commission, Bangalore, December, 2005. Sericologia, Vol. 44(3), 2004. Sericulture and Silk Industry Statistics, 2003, Central Silk Board, Govt. of India, Bangalore.

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