With the origins of silk dating back to China, silk has set the luxury standard for many centuries. India is the second largest producer of silk in the world. India produces five commercially traded varieties of silk namely – Mulberry, Tropical Tasar, Oak Tasar, Eri and Muga.
Mulberry Silk is the most commercial silk produced in the world. Mulberry silk comes from the domesticated silkworm Bombyx mori which feeds solely on the leaves of the mulberry plant. With Copperish colour and coarse in nature Tasar silk is mainly used for furnishing and interiors. It is secreted by the Tropical Tasar silkworm, Antheraea mylitta which thrives on Asan and Arjun. Oak Tasar is a finer variety of Tasar produced by the temperate Tasar silkworm, Antheraea proylei which feeds on natural oak plants. Eri silk is a silk spun from open-ended cocoons and secreted by the domesticated silkworm, Samia cynthia ricini that feeds mainly on castor leaves. Muga silk is golden yellow in colour and an exclusive produce of India, primarily the state of Assam where it is the preferred attire during festivities. Muga silk is secreted by Antheraea assama that feeds on aromatic leaves of naturally growing Som and Sualu plants.
Sericulture is an agro-based industry which involves rearing of silkworms for the production of raw silk, which is the yarn obtained out of cocoons spun by certain species of insects. Some of the major activities of sericulture includes 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. The sericulture activities are spread around 52000 villages across India. This industry has witnessed a huge jump in raw silk productivity with the average yield going up from 25 kgs of cocoons/100 dfls to the range of 60 – 65 kgs/100 dfls. With the advent of new technologies, yields have doubled and have also led to qualitative improvements in cocoon production