Silk Rearing in Kashmir

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Silk has been one of the cherished heritages of Jammu and Kashmir. Fact remains that the queen of the fabrics, Kashmir Silk has ever cherished the passion of consumers for its lustre, purity and fineness. During the medieval times silk production in Kashmir received a big boost with Sultan Zain-ul-Abideen also known as ‘’Budshah’’ (the Great King) giving special attention to this sector and introducing new improved techniques to make it a booming industry. However, during the Afghan rule in Kashmir, the fledgling industry terribly suffered, but the Dogra rulers in early 19th century once more revived the sericulture sector to emerge it as the flagship of Kashmir’s economy. By the first half of 20th century, Kashmir had a dynamic silk trade with its precious silk yarn exported not only to the entire British Empire but also to whole of Europe. Sericulture is a labour intensive cottage industry combining both agriculture and industry. It is the only one cash crop in agriculture sector that gives returns within 30 days. Kashmir had its indigenous races of silkworm and produced best quality cocoons in the world.
Silk rearing, the main stays of the state’s economy till over two decades ago, is unfortunately in shambles today. The reasons for Kashmir silk industry falling on bad days are varied. It is widely contended that de-monopolization of the industry and bifurcation of Kashmir Filatures led to the decline in the use of cocoons locally. The outside traders took advantage of the situation. These traders lured cocoon rearers with quite high prices to sell their produce to them leaving very little raw material for the Kashmir filatures.