Castor plant leaves to be used for silk production | india | Hindustan Times
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Castor plant leaves to be used for silk production

india Updated: May 03, 2010 16:53 IST
Gaurav Tripathi
Gaurav Tripathi
Hindustan Times
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Now husbands won't have to suppress the desires of their wives, who desperately want to clad in 'Banarasi silk' saris and other coarse silk linens.

Breaking the monopoly of mulberry leaves that produce costly silk (in vogue in silk industries across the country), now castor plant leaves would be used to produce silk. This will be cheap and a boon for farmers across the state who are confronting with less fertile agriculture lands.

Insect Thilsomia Ricini would be grown on leaves of castor plants that have so far been famous for producing seeds for medicinal purpose, lubricants and people use it's stem in making thatched roofs.

Scientists have discovered that unlike mulberry plants leaves, castor plants leaves can be plucked up to 33 per cent with no adverse affect on stems or seeds of this plant. Insects are grown on leaves and once the cocoons are formed leaves are plucked.

With the usage of ericulture technique these silk worms would be grown on 33 per cent leaves of a castor plant. Envisaging the vast scope of producing silks from castor leaves, Uttar Pradesh Council of Agriculture Research (UPCAR) has selected Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture & Technology in Kanpur to develop the silk on castor leaves.

And in a remarkable pace scientists working on it have got phenomenal success in this much-hyped project.

Spearheading the growth of Thilsomia Ricini on castor leaves Assistant Professor Dr Nalini Tewari told Hindustan Times that coarse silk being grown on mulberry leaves and 'banarasi saris' being woven in Varanasi is very costly.

But now these new silk insects are successfully grown on castor leaves.

"Sericulture is the technology known for producing coarse silk but when the silk insects are grown on castor leaves it is known as ericulture," said Dr Nalini.

"Castor is an annual crop but it has three times picking seasons. Farmers get to rear the silk in period of October-November, Februray-March and March-April. After rearing castor leaves are eaten by Thilsomia Ricini."