Shimla, Dec 20: Reduction in import duty on raw silk has severely hit the domestic industry, impacting the livelihood of over 9,000 farmers engaged in sericulture in Himachal Pradesh, a government official said here Tuesday.
The silk prices have not fallen due to fluctuations in the international market. However, in the central government 2011-12 budget, the import duty on raw silk was reduced to 5.15 percent from 30 percent, thereby adversely impacting the prices of silk cocoons during the autumn crop this year, an industries department spokesperson told IANS.
More than 9,000 farmers are directly involved in cocoon cultivation in the state, mainly in lower hills of Bilaspur, Mandi, Kangra, Una, Hamirpur and Sirmaur districts.
He said the silk cultivation was also not encouraging as the Central Silk Board has not offered any participatory proposal to provide the minimum support price (MSP) to cocoon producers.
‘At present, there is no proposal to give MSP to the silk cocoon producers in the state,’ Industries Minister Kishan Kapoor told IANS.
The other states involved in sericulture are Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Congress legislator Rajesh Dharmani, who belongs to Ghumarwin assembly constituency in Bilaspur district, a hub of cocoon cultivation, said the central government was ready to provide MSP to silk farmers but state governments, expect Karnataka, refused to accept the centre’s proposal.
The central government has proposed to share the MSP on 80:20 percent basis with the states.
He said silk farmers in the state are distressed due to want of suitable price for their produce. ‘The state is facing tough competition from China, which is marketing raw silk at much lower rates in the Indian market,’ Dharmani added.