Pandemic cripples sale of Karnataka silk cocoons
by Nirmala Carvalho

The lockdown cuts domestic and foreign demand. Prices plummet by 60-70%, the most drastic drop in a decade. The textile sector employs 45 million people nationwide. Local authorities intervene, providing subsidies to producers.


Bengaluru (AsiaNews) - The coronavirus pandemic has plummeted India’s silk industry into great difficulty. The People's Archive of Rural India reports that the government-imposed lockdown to fight Covid-19 has hit silk producers, sellers and weavers hard. The supply chain has imploded and low demand has caused prices to drop by 60-70%, from 450-480 rupees (5.2-5.6 euros) to 150-160 (1.7-1.9 euros). euro) per kg.

Textiles are a key sector of the Indian economy. According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, it employs around 45 million people and contributes to 7% of industrial production and 2% of GDP. In 2019, silk exports generated revenues of 31.3 billion euros, 15% of the earnings deriving from national exports.

The crisis is clearly visible in the market of Ramanagara (Karnataka), one of the largest in Asia for the sale of silk cocoons. Farmers from all over the state gather here to sell their produce. The facility is open 24 hours a day, as many farmers go there at night for the next day's auction.

Deputy Market Director Munshi Basaiah explains that on average 35-40 metric tons of cocoons are sold per day. Karnataka supplies about one third of all silk produced in India, the world's leading producer of fine fabrics, after China. The sales reduction is mainly due to the postponement or cancellation of weddings and other events of great social importance in the country.

Hemanth PR, a 33-year-old second-generation farmer from Ramanagara whose family has been producing silk cocoons for over 30 years, says this is the most drastic price drop he has ever seen in a decade.

Since April 1, the government of Karnataka has been supporting the sector with a subsidy of 50 rupees for every kg of cocoons sold. Local authorities hope that at the end of the health emergency the situation will settle; until then, those in the silk industry must find alternative means to survive and feed their families.

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