How Buniyaad reeling machines are helping tribal women involved in silk production

Ministry of External Affairs has promised to extend support to help promote silk in global market.

Union Minister for Textiles Smriti Irani and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Saturday distributed the BuniyaadTasar Silk Reeling Machines. The Buniyaad reeling machines aim to eradicate unhygienic traditional methods used by tribal women of the country in silk production, and also to increase thier household income.

India produces 32,000 metric tonnes of silk per year. Mulberry silk, Tasar silk, Muga silk, and Eri silk are the main types of silk produced in India. Mulberry contributes almost 80% of total silk production.

Tussar or Tassar silk, unlike mulberry, is extracted from silkworms feeding on local trees like Sal, Arjun and Saja. Major Tassar silk production states in India are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Orissa etc. It is a major source of income for the tribal women living in these states. Indian produces 2,080 metric tonnes of Tassar silk per year, which is almost 6.5% of total silk production.

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Tassar silk reeling is a process in which filament from cocoons is unwinded. Traditionally, the yarn reeling is done by traditional methods like Thigh Reeling. In this, the person reeling has to sit cross-legged on the floor, draw 5 to 6 filaments on their thigh from cocoons cooked with alkaline material like sodium carbonate, and then false-twist it. During this, some amount of ash powder, oil and starch are also used. Then the composite fibre is wound upon a bamboo appliance called Natwa.

Through this process, on average, tribal women produce 70 grams of 70 denier yarn. Around 500 thousand metric tonnes of Tassar silk is produced through Thigh Reeling. The process is not only injurious to tribal women, but it also produces yarn which is weak and lacking in strength. Women using thigh reeling methods only earn up to Rs 125 per day.

To help women get rid of the thigh reeling technique, Central Silk Technological Research Institute in association with an entrepreneur from Champa in Chhattisgarh has produced a machine which not only can help tribal women raise their income, but also avoid the hazard associated with the occupation. A woman through Buniyaad Reeling Machine can produce 200 gms of silk yarn per day, increasing her income to up to Rs 350 per day. The machine can be powered by electricity or by movement feet, as per wishes of the maker.

Textiles Minister Smriti Irani expressed hope that thigh reeling technique’s replacement with machine based reeling will happen this year only, instead of 2020. A mobile application e-cocoon was also launched at the event, which will help in quality certification in the silkworm sector. Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, too, promised to extend support in providing support for promoting silk in global markets.

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