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Silk from another insect variety

india Updated: May 04, 2010 08:47 IST
Gaurav Tripathi

Now husbands won't have to suppress the desires of their wives, who desperately want to clad in 'Banarasi silk' sarees and other coarse silk linens.

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

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

Scientists have discovered that unlike mulberry plants leaves, caster plants leaves can be plucked up to 33 percent 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 percent leaves of a caster plant. Envisaging the vast scope of producing silks from caster leaves, Uttar Pradesh Council of Agriculture Research (UPCAR) has selected CSA University of agriculture and technology in Kanpur to develop the silk on caster 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 caster 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 caster leaves. "Sericulture is the technology known for producing coarse silk but when the silk insects are grown on caster leaves it is known as ericulture," said Dr Nalini.

Unlike Mulberry leaves these caster plants leaves have the efficacy of rearing thrice in a year. Resulting, more produce and profit for farmers and people would be buying it by spending meagre amount.