News: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central Silk Board on a convergence model for the implementation of Agroforestry in the silk sector. It is a part of the ongoing Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme. Earlier, the Government of India allocated Rs. 2161.68 crores for three years i.e. 2017-2020 to its Central Sector Scheme ‘Silk Samagra’ for the development of sericulture in the country.
- It aims to incentivize the farmers to take up sericulture based Agroforestry models thereby contributing to the Make in India and Make for the World vision of the Prime Minister.
- This linkage will add another dimension to agroforestry for faster returns to the growers as well as support the production of the range of silks that India is famous for. The Central Silk Board (CSB – under the Ministry of Textiles) will act as a catalyst to promote Agroforestry in the silk sector.
- The initiative of formalizing the collaboration in the sericulture sector is especially targeted for augmentation of sericulture host plants e.g. Mulberry, Asan, Arjuna, Som, Soalu, Kesseru, BadaKesseru, Phanat, etc. to be cultivated both as block plantations and border or peripheral plantations on farmlands.
- Planting sericulture based tree species on the farm bunds and rearing silkworms will help in creating additional income opportunities for farmers besides their regular source of income from agriculture activities. It will contribute to the Prime Minister’s vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme:
- The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare(DAC & FW) has been implementing the SMAF since 2016-17 as part of the recommendation of the National Agroforestry Policy 2014.
- India was the first country to have such a comprehensive policy which was launched at the World Agroforestry Congress held in Delhi in February 2014.
- The scheme is implemented only in the states having liberalized transit regulations for the transport of timber and will be extended to other states as and when such relaxations are notified by them.
- At present, the scheme is being implemented in20 States and 2 UTs. The scheme promotes endemic species or tree species that come with medicinal value. Exotic species are not promoted by the scheme.
- It aims to encourage farmers to plant multi-purpose trees together with the agriculture crops for climate resilience and an additional source of income to the farmers, as well as enhanced feedstock to inter alia wood-based and herbal industry.
- It is operational under the funding pattern60:40 (Central government: State government) basis for all states except for 8 states of North East Region, the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where it would be 90:10 fund sharing. For Union Territories (UTs), the assistance will be 100% from the Central government.
- Farmers would be supported financially to the extent of50% of the actual cost of the interventions (limited to 50% of the estimated cost as indicated in the Cost norms) for the respective interventions.
- Farmers groups/Cooperatives and Farmer Producers Organization (FPO) can also avail the benefit of the programme but the assistance can be accessed as per norms and provisions applicable to the individual farmers.
- At least 50% of the allocation is to be utilized for small, marginal farmers of which at least 30% should be women beneficiaries/farmers. Further 16% & 8% of the total allocation or in proportion of SC/ST population in the district will be utilized for Special Component Plan (SCP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) Farmers must have a soil health card to get the benefit under the programme.
- Agroforestry is defined as a land use system which integrates trees and shrubs on farmlands and rural landscapes to enhance productivity, profitability, diversity and ecosystem sustainability.
- It is a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management system that, through integration of woody perennials on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production and builds social institutions.
- It is an agro-based industry. It involves rearing of silk worms for the production of raw silk, which is the yarn obtained out of cocoons spun by certain species of insects.
- Themajor activities of sericulture consist of food-plant cultivation to feed the silkworms which spin silk cocoons and reeling the cocoons for unwinding the silk filament for value-added benefits such as processing and weaving. Domesticated silkworms (Bombyx mori) are raised for the purpose of sericulture.
Silk Production in India:
- There are five major types of silk of commercial importance, obtained from different species of silkworms.
- These are Mulberry, Oak Tasar & Tropical Tasar, Muga and Eri.
- Except for mulberry, other non-mulberry varieties of silks are wild silks, known as vanya silks.
- India has the unique distinction of producing all these commercial varieties of silk.
- South India is the leading silk producing area of the countryand is also known for its famous silk weaving enclaves like Kancheepuram, Dharmavaram, Arni, etc.