HomeAgricultureWhat is Sericulture? The Complete Process of Rearing of Silkworm for Silk

What is Sericulture? The Complete Process of Rearing of Silkworm for Silk

What is Sericulture The Complete Process of Rearing of Silkworm for Silk

Silk production was first introduced in the 15th century. Silk, the “Queen of Textiles”, is known for its lightweight, soft touch, and distinctive elegance. Also, it adds class to any garment it’s woven into. 

Besides offering rich grandeur, Silk brings along low capital investment and high remuneration opportunities for the rural class. The whole process with which silk is extracted is called Sericulture.

Sericulture farming is a highly opportunistic area where individuals can earn a decent living. Also, with the rise in income and living styles, more people are opting for silk-based clothes.

And to your surprise, Silk today has extensive demand beyond handloom and textiles. Moreover, Silk is found in surgical sutures and bicycle tyres too. 

If you are amazed by the idea of how superior Silk is, let’s read the complete guide on what is a Sericulture process, the importance of sericulture, and further describe the role of Sericulture in the Indian economy.

What is Sericulture?

Sericulture is a process of producing raw silk by breeding, rearing and domesticating caterpillars (larvae). Bombyx mori species is particularly used for cultivating silk. Whereas other specific silkworms such as Eri, Muga, and Tasar are also used for cultivating wild silk.

Silk Sericulture involves two steps:

Step 1 – Rearing the silkworm right from when it is in the egg and turns into a cocoon.

Step 2 – Producing Mulberry trees to feed silkworms. Mulberry trees’ leaves provide minerals, vitamins, amino acids, hydration and other nutrients a silkworm would need to produce larvae.

Silkworm and its Types

There are various commercial species of silkworms; Bombyx mori (the caterpillar of the domestic silk moth) is a widely used and studied silkworm. Here are a few types of silk from commonly used silkworms.

Types of Silk from Silkworms

Types of Silk from Silkworm

  • Mulberry Silk from Bombyx Mori silkworm 
  • Tasar Silk from Antheraea roylet silkworm
  • Eri or Arundi Silk from Attacus Ricini 
  • Mina Silk from Antheraea Assama

Types of Silk 

  • Mulberry Silk from Bombyx Mori silkworm – feeds on Mulberry and results in Mulberry Silk.
  • Tasar Silk from Antheraea roylet silkworm – which feeds on oak and results in Tasar Silk.
  • Eri or Arundi Silk from Attacus Ricini –  feeds on castor and results in Eri Silk.
  • Mina Silk from Antheraea Assama – Feeds on oak and other forest trees and results in Muga Silk.

Sericulture Industry in India – Silk Production in India

The Indian Sericulture market is expected to reach INR 1,032.8 Billion by 2027, showing a growth rate at a CAGR of 18.4% during 2022-2027. Also, the Sericulture market was evaluated at INR 376 Billion in 2021

India claims to be the second largest producer of silk. India holds a market share of-

  • 71.8%  for the Mulberry Silk
  • 9.9% for the Tasar Silk
  • 17.8% for the Eri Silk
  • 0.6% for the Muga Silk

The top Indian States Where Cultivation of Silk is Huge

For Mulberry sericulture, the top 5 states are popular as:

  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Bodoland
  • West Bengal
  • Assam
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Jharkhand

Among these, Mysore (Karnataka) is the leading silk producer state. Moreover, North East is the only exception to the above states that deals in silk cultivation of Mulberry, Muga, Eri, and Oak Tasar.

Role of Sericulture In India – An Outlook

After China, the 2nd largest producer of silk in the world is India. Moreover, all four varieties of Silk are found only in India. Also, India’s sericulture industry is one of the largest foreign exchange earners for the country.

We have huge exporting fabrics & made-ups of raw silk, natural silk yarn, readymade garments, silk waste and handloom products of silk. Moreover, the industry employs around 9.76 million people in rural and semi-urban areas. 

The sericulture activities in India are spread across 52,360 villages, preventing rural people’s migration to urban areas in search of employment. Therefore playing a vital role as an anti-poverty programme and inducing economic development.

India is the only state with all four varieties of silk. Moreover, as per the reports, India records around 2969 tonnes of Silk production per year and ranks 3rd in silk production.

Mulberry silk is produced predominantly in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and non-mulberry varieties (Vanya silk) such as Tussar are produced in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal.

Importance of Sericulture in India

There are several advantages of sericulture farming in India. Let’s talk about a few of them:

Advantages of Sericulture

Advantages of Sericulture

  • Environmental Friendly
  • High Earning Opportunities
  • Mulberry Tree Has Faster Growth
  • High Job Opportunities

Sericulture is Environmental Friendly 

  • Mulberry branches can be used as fuel for firewood.
  • It is agricultural activities, labour induced, that require less smoke emitting equipment.
  • Silkworm waste can be used as compost or input for gardens.
  • Mulberry, a deep-rooted perennial plant with good root spread and foliage. Also, it can be planted in watershed areas, hills, vacant lands etc., as a green cover.
  • Mulberry can be planted in unused land in upland areas.

Earnings in Sericulture Farming are high  

Planting mulberry trees and rearing of silkworms on 1 acre of irrigated land would require approx. Rs.12,000 to 15,000 of investment. However, these amounts exclude the cost of land required for rearing.

By following proper practices, a farmer can expect to earn Rs.30000/ acre per annum.

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Planting Mulberry has low gestation

You can grow a Mulberry tree for silk rearing in just six months. Once grown, the plantation will continue supporting rearing for good 15-20 years if approached with the right practices and management

Sericulture improves employability

Sericulture farming is the best method to support rural areas’ employment needs. One kg of silk production requires 11 men during the year to support all on and off-farm activities. Moreover, India produced 33,739 metric tons of wool in 2021; imagine the employability rate!

At present, the sericulture industry provides employment to 8.7 million people in rural and semi-rural areas.

Fun Fact

3-Step Process of Sericulture Farming

Sericulture is an agro-based industry that involves breeding, growing, and managing silkworms to get pure raw silk. Moreover, silk farming in India requires optical environment conditions and protection from pests, insects and diseases. Sericulture involves 3 dedicated steps as follows:

1. Moriculture

Moriculture is a process of growing and planting Mulberry trees that provides feed to silkworms. Also, these plants can be grow through cultivation from seeds, root or stem grafting.

Stem grafting is a highly use method where the stem of a mature mulberry tree is extracted of about a  length of approx. 22 cm. Also, it is further planted or transplanted to the final location.

Mulberry leaves are harvested either through picking manually, removing the entire branch or just shooting tops.

mature mulberry leaves

2. Silkworm Rearing

In this stage, the female silk moth lays the eggs. Silkworm farmers first rear the moths and store their eggs in a clean place under suitable conditions of warmth and humidity. A formalin solution is use to disinfect these eggs. 

Mulberry leaves are laid on a tray to feed hatched larvae through a process called brushing. Also, twigs are place in the tray for which the caterpillars spin their cocoons over the next 3-7 days to obtain the silk fibre. 

When silkworms reach their maturity age, they appear translucent and shrunk. Also, to begin pupation, they wrap themselves in a cocoon via saliva released through their own saliva glands. When this saliva comes in contact with air, it becomes solidified and turns into silk.

Silkworm Rearing

3. Silk Reeling

The larvae inside a cocoon undergo metamorphosis and convert into a purpae. Moreover, the purpae inside the cocoon is kill through dry heat and steam to disentangle the threads.

Once the insect inside the cocoons is kill during this process. Finally, the threads unwound from the cocoons by special machines during a process called reeling.

Silk rearing is the final stage when the silk is harvest by removing silk filaments from the dead cocoon. The resulting fibre is raw silk, which is then spun into silk threads woven into silk cloth and further colour.

Government Initiated Policies for Sericulture in India

The Ministry of Textile offers various initiatives that promote and support Sericulture in the Indian landscape. Also, here are a few of them regulate by the textile ministry:

  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY) provides benefits to improve the sericulture ecosystem, soil conditions, pest management, and silkworm seed base to boost sericulture cultivation.
  • The Central Silk Board Amendment Act 2006 releases rules and regulations that oversee the quality production of silkworm seeds or eggs.
  • Catalytic Development Programme on Sericulture (CDP) is a flagship program of the Central Silk Board. The program ensures the setting up of enterprises for seed production until processing. The programs also help create mulberry clusters, extend credit flow, and scale businesses in tribal and rural areas.
  • Forest Conservation Act allows farmers to undertake Vanya rearing in their host plantation in forests.


Rearing of silkworms is a commercially practicable activity and is dominating the industry worldwide. Due to the increasing lifestyle and income of individuals, Silk has great demand that is not going to be repress soon. 

In addition, the Sericulture process is quite easy to approach by any Individual looking for rearing Silkworms for commercial purposes or just for a hobby.

The best thing about Sericulture or silk cultivation is the number of employment opportunities it brings, which is greater than any other farming type. And the process of sericulture is easy for anyone to start with, given initial knowledge and training.

Frequently Asked Questions

Que. What is the meaning of Sericulture?

Ans. Sericulture is the process of breeding, growing, and rearing silkworm species like silkmoth (also known as Bombyx Mori) to extract silk from them. 

Que. What is a Silk Fibre?

Ans. The silk fibre is a protein that silkworms produce from their glands.

Que. What are the common concerns faced by agriculturalists during silk farming in India?

Ans. Diseases affect the eggs and destroy them, which may result in the shrinkage of larvae bodies, poor technical skills may result in degraded quality silk, and insufficient silkworm production.

Que. Which are the best conditions and temperatures for rearing the silkworm?

Ans. The temperature between 20°C and 28°C is considered to be the optimum temperature for standard growth of silkworms, and the preferred temperature for ultimate productivity varies from 23°C to 28°C. Also, temperature above 30°C directly impacts the health of the worm.

Que. What are the benefits and drawbacks of rearing of silkworms?

Ans. The primary advantage of silk sericulture is the money that farmers earn by practising this. Also, this is a high-yield and high-profit field. Also women also handle this cultivation, so this doubles the family income. A significant disadvantage is that the silk produce by a diseased silkworm can be disastrous and cause huge losses.

Que. How much do you earn from the profession of rearing of silkworms?

Ans. If you are planning to start silkworm farming in India, the investment would be up to Rs. 14,000, except for the land and rearing costs. This analysis is for the cultivation of both mulberry and rearing of the silkworm in an acre of land irrigated. Moreover, the income generated with these values would be around Rs. 28,000/- per year.

Que. What two proteins are found in silk?

Ans. Silk consists of two proteins called sericin and fibroin. 80% of silk fibre made up of fibroin, and 20% of the silk contains sericin.

Que. What are the major challenges of Sericulture faced by farmers?

Ans. Diseases can impact the egg quality and shrunken larvae body. And without proper technical skills, the quality of silk harvest can be low as well. Thus, better training and understanding are a must.

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