Sunday, April 14, 2024

Mulberry and sericulture industry

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Mulberry and sericulture industry

A few years ago I visited Rajbari. Went to see a project on basic silk there. I was watching every step of their work. It was nice to learn something new. How caterpillars are produced by eating the leaves of the mulberry tree, then the silk thread is collected from the larvae. Finally, the silk thread is made from that thread. Sarees and other garments such as Punjabis, shirts, fatwa and salwar-kameez are made from that thane. It was nice to look around. Only came to one place where the insects were killed by boiling in hot water before the yarn was collected. Although this is nothing new, for ages we humans have survived by destroying the lives of other animals. Still, it was hard to accept that innocent little insects were sacrificing their lives to make our clothes.

The favorite food of the silkworm is the leaves of the mulberry tree. It can be said that mulberry leaves are an essential ingredient for silk industry. Mulberry fruit is very juicy, sour-sweet and delicious. Ripe mulberry fruit juice is made into jam, jelly or drink. Comparatively, mulberry grown in Bangladesh soil is more delicious. Mulberry trees are cultivated for fruit in different countries of the world but in Bangladesh mulberry is never cultivated for fruit. In Bangladesh, mulberry trees are cultivated for silk. Once there were many mulberry trees in the villages of Bangladesh. Mulberries are a favorite food of many birds.

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English name of Mulberry plant is Mulberry plant. The genus Morus contains 10-16 species of mulberry in the Moraceae family. There are wild varieties of mulberry and cultivated varieties as well. The scientific names of three species of mulberry trees are Morus nigra, Morus rubra and Moras indica. All three species are cultivated for silk in Bangladesh. Mulberry trees are cultivated for sericulture in different countries of the world including Bangladesh. The mulberry tree is native to China. In addition to India, Bangladesh, mulberry trees are cultivated in various parts of Asia, Africa, Europe and America. Black, red and white mulberry trees are well distributed in Southern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Each region has its own language name. Jams and sherbets are made from mulberry fruits in all these areas. Most mulberry cultivation in Bangladesh is in Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj. Also in Natore, Rangpur, Pabna, Bogra, Thakurgaon, Mymensingh, Dinajpur and Sylhet, mulberry trees are cultivated for silkworm food. Ripe reddish black or black fruit species are especially cultivated. Their trees are relatively short.

Mulberry cultivation has been banned in some North American cities. They produce a large amount of pollen, which causes allergies in some people. Only male mulberry plants produce this pollen. These light airborne pollens easily enter the human lungs and cause asthma in some people. On the other hand, female mulberry plants produce only female flowers that receive pollen from the wind for pollination. Female mulberry trees are also considered by many to be harmful to health due to pollination. Others consider it allergy-free.

Mulberry fruit has several medicinal properties. Mulberry bark and root juice are anthelmintic. The juice of the ripe fruit acts as an antidote to wind, bile, phlegm and fever. Ripe mulberry fruit is very useful for relieving constipation. Consuming too much mulberry juice is likely to cause diarrhoea. Mulberries have anti-cancer properties. It is also a very useful plant for preventing diabetes. A substance (saccharide) in the mulberry fruit and the leaves and roots of the mulberry plant is present in the human body. This ingredient helps to lower blood sugar and bring it to normal levels. It is known to have no side effects. It also helps in lowering cholesterol. Black mulberry was brought to Britain in the 17th century to be used for silkworm cultivation. But actually this tree is used more in making folk medicine. Especially in the treatment of ringworm. The mulberry tree is also widespread in Greece.

Paper was made from the bark of the mulberry tree in ancient times. In the Khmer Empire of Southeast Asia, Buddhist temple monks made paper from the bark of the mulberry tree during the Angkorean period. The papers were known as Crying. This paper was used to make books. Trees of the closely related genus Broussonetia are also called mulberries. Broussonetia papyrifera in particular is called paper mulberry.

Mulberry tree is a small deciduous tree. The leaves fall off in the winter and the mulberry trees grow new leaves in early spring. The leaves of the mulberry tree are ovate, rough and pointed. The margins of the leaves have saw-like grooves. Male and female flowers are separate on the mulberry tree. It is a berry fruit. The tiny flowers of the mulberry stem are borne densely. A fruit is made up of many small fruits. Usually the unripe fruit is green in color and the fruits of most species are pink at first and turn dark purple or black when ripe. The white-fruited species remain white even after ripening. Their fruits are also very sweet and have a mild sweet flavor that black fruits do not have. However, it looks similar in size and shape.

In the climate of our country, the mulberry tree flowers abundantly in February-March and fruits ripen in March-April. This tree bears fruit throughout the year and ripens within a few days. Ripe fruits are beautiful in appearance, juicy and sour-sweet in taste. Mulberry plants grow well when young. Their growth slows down with age. They grow up to 10 to 15 meters. A mulberry tree bears leaves for 20-25 years after planting. The branches are pruned when the plant is 6 feet tall so that the plant has more leaves and less height. Trees cultivated for their leaves as food for silkworms have very soft stems.

Generally, mulberry trees are cultivated in Bangladesh by branch grafting. In addition, new plants can be formed even if pruned branches are planted in the ground in winter. Seedlings can also be easily made from seeds. Mulberry plants grow beautifully in small or large tubs or any container. Mulberry grows best in loam and sandy loam soils. Besides, mulberry cultivation is good in high and flat land. Chapainawabganj district is the most cultivated mulberry due to climate and fertile soil. In different districts of Bangladesh, silkworms are cultivated depending on three species of trees: white, black and red mulberry. Ashwin-Kartik month is the suitable time for planting mulberry trees according to the climate of Bangladesh. If you want to collect high quality silk balls from mulberry trees, you have to pay attention to the irrigation system of this tree. The yield of mulberry leaves is good if there is proper drainage during the monsoon season and adequate irrigation during the dry season. Mulberry trees can also be planted on rooftops or gardens for medicinal use.

There are three steps in sericulture, i.e. cultivation of mulberry trees, rearing of silkworms and weaving of cloth by separating and collecting the cocoons to make cloth. Cultivation of mulberry trees and rearing of silkworms are agricultural activities. The last step is mainly industrial work called filature. This step is done in cottage industries. Bangladesh has four to five silk seasons in a year. A sericulture season usually lasts up to 30 days depending on the weather. The main seasons are Chaitra, Jaishtha and Agrahayana months.

Silk silk is produced from the silkworm cocoons of the Bombyx mori species. Mulberry leaves are fed to silkworms or silkworms. Silk thread is made from the saliva of this insect. After various processes, silk yarn is made from nests or cocoons made by silkworms. Silk or silk cloth is made from this yarn. A mulberry plant requires an egg. After hatching from the egg, the silkworm or silkworm produces cocoons within 25 days and till 25 days i.e. before cocoons are formed, silkworms continue to feed on leaves. Usually 500 silkworms are born from one silk moth and produce cocoons. About 600 good quality silkworms are required to produce one kg of good quality cocoons. 100 to 120 maunds of leaves are available per bigha of mulberry tree.

The white silk or cocoon looks like a small bird’s egg. A single thread over 500 meters long is arranged concentrically inside the cocoon. It takes three days to form a cocoon. In eight days the larvae inside the cocoon develop into pupae. Before pupation, the cocoon is boiled in hot water to kill the insect inside. Later silk thread is collected from this cocoon. Within a few days the entire pupa turns into a moth and one end of the cocoon leaks out. After the pupa emerges from the cocoon, the quality of the silk thread decreases. That is why it is necessary to kill the pupa before it turns into a moth. 2, 4 and 6 strands of yarn are combined to form a reel. How many yarns are gathered depends on how many plies the reel is and how many plies of silk are produced during weaving. Matka silk is made from the discarded yarn from the outer cocoon shell.

Silk is a luxury product. Barendrabhumi silk was once world famous. It was the golden age of silk fabric. Silk was in demand among Europe’s elite. Both buyers and sellers would benefit then. In Rajshahi, the sound of handlooms and powerlooms used to echo day and night. Today is not that day. Now there is silence. With the passage of time, due to the lack of foresight and negligence of the officials, today its demand has come down to zero. Thousands of people in the Rajshahi region have been employed in the silk industry, but today they are unemployed or engaged in some other profession. Still few people are associated with this industry. They are working continuously to maintain the tradition of silk. Some factories are getting yarn from India and China. Sometimes the sound of machines running in one or two factories can be heard in the distance. A handful of weavers work there. They are weaving silk cloth with talent and labor.

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