Is the slump in price of cocoons and raw silk a seasonal phenomenon or has polyester taken the sheen off silk?

Though a section of the stakeholders in the silk industry say the crash in price of silk was seasonal on account of high yield in the rainy season, the president of Karnataka Silk Weavers’ Federation, T.V. Maruthi, claimed that a large number of weavers have started preferring polyester to silk.

“Saris woven out of polyester yarn appear as good if not better than those woven out of silk. Polyester is available at 20% of silk’s rate. Besides, polyester saris are considered more durable,” Mr. Maruthi told
The Hindu
. The demand for polyester saris is increasing in the market, forcing a large number of weavers to prefer polyester to silk, he said.

N.Y. Chigari, CEO of Koppa Sericulture Farmers’ Producer Company Ltd., Maddur, a Government of India enterprise, said the dip in price of raw silk and cocoons was a seasonal phenomenon. “During rainy season, the cocoon crop is high but its reliability is suspect. The ‘urinated cocoons’ are not preferred by the reelers,” said Mr. Chigari, who is also a retired Deputy Director of the Sericulture Department.

Meanwhile, Balakrishna Arya, who manufactures silk reeling machines, attributed the slump in prices to high yield. “There has been a considerable increase in arrival of cocoons, which has led to the slump,” he said. The markets at Ramanagaram, Kanakapura, and Siddlaghatta have reported a marked increase in the arrival of cocoons in the past month on account of good rains.

Meanwhile, the Ramanagaram District Sericulture Farmers’ Welfare Association has urged the government to set up reeling centres in Ramanagaram, Kollegal, Kanakapura and other areas where sericulture is practised. “If the government runs the reeling centres, there can be stability in price of cocoons,” said association president Gautham Gowda.

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