Proposed Silk Worm (Sericulture) Production Project FLAGGED
Sericulture is a viable and environmentally friendly agricultural business that offers long term financial returns to communities.
PROPOSED SILK WORM (SERICULTURE)
PRODUCTION PROJECT FOR RONPACK CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES.
Africa Rural Connect
RESEARCHED AND COMPILED BY:
RONALD O. ONDARI,
RONPACK CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES.
Sericulture Production Business Plan
Table of Contents
Legal name and status of business:
RONPACK CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES
Technical Director-Ronald Ondari
Financial Director-Sarah Nyaboke
Resource Director-Wilson Nderito
Address of main office:
LR NO 6845/124 PLOT NO.28
Addresses of other offices:
P.O BOX 58981-00200
Address of registered office:
Plot No.315-AYANU HOUSE,PIPELINE ESTATE
Name and address of parent company:
Business incorporation/registration date:
Business incorporation/registration number:
Business tax reference number(s):
Agriculture in Kenya remains a dominant sector in the economy. Agriculture's contribution to rural employment, foreign exchange earning and rural incomes are so important that any broad-based improvement in rural living standards will almost certainly require substantial productivity growth in agriculture. Agriculture accounts for about 24% of Kenya’s GDP with an estimated 75% of the population depending on the sector either directly or indirectly.
Micro and small enterprises (MSE's) are the most important source of informal employment. In 1999, MSE's accounted for 2.3 million jobs; by 2002, the sector employed 5.1 million persons, accounting for 74 percent of total employment. Men account for 60 percent of total MSE employment, while women account for 40 percent. In 2002, recognizing the importance of the sector, the government created a new MSE policy framework; it places MSE development in line with the national economic growth goals, employment creation, income generation, and poverty reduction (ILO 2005).
Between 1994 and 1999 income inequality in Kenya grew worse. In 1999, Kenya ranked among the five most unequal countries in the world, with the wealthiest 10 percent controlling approximately 42 percent of the total income and the poorest 20 percent controlling only 1.5 percent (SID 2004).
It is in line with these indicators that Eco Fresh came up with the Sericulture project to help improve the economic welfare of it's members, and that of other low income groups in arid and semi arid areas, and also create long term sustainable employment opportunities. Sericulture is the practice of rearing of silkworms for production of silk. It has a low labour demand and a long value chain, and thus has the opportunity to provide employment to a high number of the rural population.
Silk farming as an emerging enterprise has a potential for income generation and food security especially in medium and low potential arid and semi arid areas of the country.
Ronpack Chemical Industries is a registered organisation based in Kenya and registered under the Registration of Business names act. It was started in Kenya in the year 2005 after the post El-nino rains. Presently there are 20 members most of whom are IDPs as a result of the rains. Our main objective is to create employment to the displaced people.
2.1. Ronpack Programme
Ronpack Chemical Industries believes that private sector entrepreneurs managing small labour intensive businesses which fill new market niches are the most effective development agents for realising these goals.
The IDPs are eager to start small farming businesses in order to make their living. However they need assistance in identifying viable opportunities accessing suitable skills and widely marketing the products.
The proposed project which is designed to end poverty among the displaced poor community will tackle the following problem areas:
High level of unemployment in Kenya:
Kenya has an ever increasing population of unemployed men and women. The National Economic Survey shows that only 1.8 million people out of an 11.4 million strong labour force are formally employed in Kenya (Source: Kenya Economic Survey 2005).
The implication is that most youth of employable age must rely on small Scale agriculture and related activities or Charity for their livelihood. It is evident that the public and formal sectors cannot expand to keep pace with the demand for jobs and that more and more people are obliged to turn to the informal sector for employment.
The project is designed to create new job opportunities principally within the small scale agricultural sector and the informal sector. Farmers, especially small scale farmers, (or subsistence farmers who contribute to more than 60% of the gross domestic food production), have borne the brunt of low farm gate prices, and the country still has not recovered from the sky high domestic food prices brought about by the recent political violence instigated by the 2007 presidential elections.
Low Living Standards:
This project seeks to assist farmers, especially those members comprising Ronpack Chemical Industries, take care of their domestic responsibilities, while leaving them enough resources to cater for more higher end expenses they could only have dreamt about, for example, just to name a few;
- Better housing
- Better education for their children
- Better health care
- Better living standards
- An improvement on the minimum wage of less than a dollar a day
Access to funding has always been an Achilles’ heel for Kenyan subsistence (small scale) farmers over the years. Middlemen have in the past taken advantage of small scale farmers due to a number of reasons, a few being;
- The small scale farmer has no bargaining power for his produce
- Lack of access to credit from financial institutions due to the high level of risk attributed to lending to this particular group, thus stunting their financial growth
- Lack of access to certified agricultural inputs
- High levels of poverty experienced by these farmers
- Lack of concrete information on market trends and farming best practices, mainly due to the lack of access to technology, and which is also attributed to the high illiteracy levels in the rural areas
The government has in the past come up with programmes to mitigate against these highlighted problems through the Agricultural Extension Services program that has had quite an impact on rural farming populations, but sadly, this has proved not to be enough, therefore, other avenues of relief have been sought, the most successful of which has been the co-operative movement.
Farmers can come together and form self help groups to augment their bargaining power. This, however, does not seem to stem the chronic lack of access to credit and financing that our farmers still face today.
It is in this light that the individuals comprising Eco Fresh came together, with a view to seek independent financing solutions from individuals, corporates, NGO's and other concerned parties to enable us break out of this cycle of financial dependence.
3.1. Funding Requirements and Proposals
This particular project demands a considerably large piece of land to be viable (above 10 acres minimum). As mulberry does very well in ASAL, this shouldn't present a major problem if the financing for a mid to long term lease or purchase of the above mentioned parcel of land can be arranged (taking into consideration that the project lifespan is at least 20 years).
Inter cropping with legumes and other horticultural crops, e.g. chillies, capsicums, eggplant, legumes, cabbages, dudhee and other horticultural vegetables that fetch very good farm gate prices for the first year can greatly increase the earnings of the group in the first year, and thus offset the loss that could come about due to the reasonably high investment that will have been put into this project in the first year.
4. ECO-FRESH Mission, Strategies
In 2010, the organization plans to be involved in the active production of sericulture. A key feature of the organization will be our emphasis on quality to develop and maintain a competitive advantage over other organizations involved in the same industry, and to become an industry leader.
The organization will be engaged in the production of sericulture and related products for sale on the basis of quality, affordability and environmentally sound production ethics to meet the needs of our customers.
We intend to expand on our current product base and develop new/additional products and markets by means of harnessing available research, production and marketing resources at our disposal.
As a self help organization, we are committed to the use of environmentally sound policies and methods in the course of production. This will ensure a more sustainable and profitable business environment where the resources we use are conserved and not degraded.
Our short, mid and long term objectives are to build a strong, diverse, healthy and viable business enterprise that can withstand economic and market fluctuations, and grow despite economic and environmental downturns.
- Unity of purpose
- Access to direct government extension services relevant to sericulture
- Large untapped market
- Lack of financing
- Lack of access to financing
4.6. Present Status
At present, we are in the process of starting up on the above mentioned project, and based on the experience of other community based projects and self help groups that have undertaken the same kind of project, and also on our Research & Development, we believe that with sufficient funding, we can turn this proposal to reality in a period of between 12 and 18 months, all factors considered, thus enabling us to start on the path to achieving financial independence and move on from reliance on external financial sources and donor support to meet our financial and other administrative obligations.
We believe that we can achieve financial independence from the reliance on donor support to meet our financial and other administrative obligations in 20-26 month after commencing production.
5. Summary of Plan
5.1. Proposed Offerings
- Raw silk cocoons
- Leaves for use as fodder for livestock and vegetables for human consumption
- Berries are processed into jam, juice, flavours and wine, or sold as fresh or dried fruit
- Pupae can be used as food for fish and poultry. They can also be processed into livestock concentrate
- Other products include basketry, timber, purlins, medicine and natural dyes
- Silkworm droppings and rearing waste used to make compost manure.
- Mulberry stalk cuttings for further crop propagation
5.2. Proposed Markets
The proposed markets are:
- The EPZ (Export Processing Zone) in Athi River
- I.C.I.P.E – Nairobi
- Pendeza weavers – Kisumu
- Spin Weave – Nairobi
- The local cottage industry (A survey carried out showed that the finer silk fabric found in the shops is imported)
- The export market, especially AGOA
5.3. Operational R&D Plans
Research and development is an integral part of all our projects and decision making capacity, and that is why we support our R&D department in all proposed programs and projects, be they in-house or otherwise.
Therefore, the organization’s research department has been mandated to maintain and up to date database on new research, emerging markets etc, in close collaboration with all concerned players in the sericulture sub-sector for relevant research and development, and operational advise relating to this particular project.
The project management will be handled by the organization to ensure product quality.
5.5. Financial Projections
Initially, we intend to start with 10-20 acres, which we believe will be quite manageable at the beginning, and later scale that up to about 50 acres in the following 3 years, and later to 100 acres in five years to realize maximum production capacity.
This will ensure that all group members shall reap maximum benefits, and more importantly, encourage the rest of the community to pursue this enterprise and realize their dreams of breaking out of the poverty cycle affecting us all. Kindly refer to section 12.4 of this proposal, which delves into more detail on expected gross margins per acre.
Sericulture is indeed an extremely profitable and viable industry, judging by the availability of markets, and also on the low number of quality silk producers in the country, and also by the profitability of the same type of project recorded by other individuals, organisations and self help groups doing the same.
6. Product History and Background Internationally
The discovery of the product silk from the silkworm species Bombyx mori occurred around 2700 BC. According to Chinese tradition the bride of Emperor Huang Ti, a 14-year-old girl called Hsi Ling Shi, discovered the invention of the first silk reel. Sericulture, the cultivation of the silkworm, spread through China making silk a highly valued commodity much sought after by other countries. In 139 BC the world's longest trade route was opened stretching from Eastern China to the Mediterranean Sea. It was named the Silk Road after its most valuable commodity. By 300 AD the secret of silk production had reached India and Japan.
Silk manufacture eventually reached Europe and America. During the 18th and 19th centuries Europeans produced several major advancements in silk production. By the 18th century England led Europe in silk manufacturing because of English innovations in the textiles industry. These innovations included improved silk-weaving looms, power looms and roller printing. Between 1855 and 1865 an epidemic called Pebrine disease, caused by a small parasite, raged through the industry.
It was the French scientist Louis Pasteur who discovered that this could be prevented through simple microscopic examinations of adult silk moth. Much research was carried out on silkworms at this time, ultimately setting the stage for a more scientific approach to silk production. Silk production today is a combination of old and modern techniques.
6.2. Bombyx Mori
Silkworm is a common name for the silk-producing larvae of any of several species of moths. The larva is not really a worm at all but a caterpillar. There are several species of silkworm that are used in commercial silk production. However, Bombyx mori is by far the most common.
Bombyx mori is native to China and was introduced into Europe and western Asia in the 6th century AD, and into North America in the 18th century. It feeds entirely on the leaves of the mulberry tree, and so flourishes only where conditions are suitable for the production of large numbers of leaf-bearing mulberry trees. Bombyx mori has been cultivated over many centuries and is no longer known in the wild.
6.3. Silk – A hardened Glandular Fluid
Silkworms possess a pair of specially modified salivary glands called sericteries, which are used for the production of a clear, viscous, proteinaceous fluid that is forced through openings called spinnerets on the mouthpart of the larva. As the fluid comes into contact with the air it hardens. The diameter of the spinneret determines the thickness of the silk thread, which is produced as a long, continuous filament.
6.4. Typical Commercial Silk Production
The first stage of silk production is the hatching of the silkworm eggs, in a controlled environment such as an aluminium box, which are then examined to ensure they are free from disease. The female deposits 300 to 400 eggs at a time. In an area the size of this page around 50 moths would deposit more than 20,000 eggs, each about the size of a pinhead. The female dies almost immediately after depositing the eggs and the male lives only a short time after. The adult possesses rudimentary mouth parts and does not eat during the short period of its mature existence.
These disease-tested eggs are raised in temperature and disease-controlled conditions. They are fastened to a flat surface by a gummy substance secreted by the female. The larvae hatch in about 10 days and are about 0.6cm long. Once hatched, they are placed under a layer of gauze and fed huge amounts of chopped mulberry leaves during which time they shed their skin four times. The larvae may also feed on Osage orange or lettuce. Larvae fed on mulberry leaves produce the very finest silk.
The larva will eat 50,000 times its initial weight in plant material. After it has achieved its maximum growth of 7.5cm at around 4 to 6 weeks, it stops eating, changes colour and attaches itself to a compartmented frame, twig, tree or shrub in a rearing house to spin a silk cocoon over a 3 to 8 day period. This period is termed pupating.
6.5. A Hard Day's Night
Steadily over the next four days the silkworm produces a fine thread by making a figure of eight movement some 300,000 times, constructing a cocoon in which it intends to spend the chrysalis stage where it is in a state of sleep and casting off its skin. After this the pupae begin the sixteen days that would normally result in the miracle of transformation to a winged being - the moth.
However, if the pupa (chrysalis) remains alive it will begin to secrete an alkali, which eats its way through the cocoon, ruining the silk threads. Therefore during the commercial production of silk, only enough adult moths are allowed to emerge to ensure continuation of the species. Most of the remainder of the silkworms are killed by heat, e.g. immersion in boiling water, steaming or drying in an oven.
6.6. Hundreds Die
The amount of usable silk from each cocoon is small. One hectare of mulberry trees yields 11.25 tonnes of leaves, producing around 200kg of cocoons, but just 40kg of raw silk. The silk yield is many times smaller than this in countries such as Thailand, where the silk is reeled by hand rather than by machine. So it takes hundreds of tiny lives to produce just one silk scarf or tie.
6.7. Stud Bank and Breeding Research
A limited number of pupae are allowed to complete their chrysalis stage, the resulting silk moths being the stud bank that produces eggs to breed future generations of silkworm. Much research has been carried out on silkworm breeding or sericulture worldwide over centuries and it continues today. Researchers are keen to establish a certain type of silkworm variety typically for low cost cocoons, disease resistance, high temperature resistance, polyphagy (ability to utilize more than one type of food), and choice quality silk. As with other types of animal farming industries, biotechnology is well established.
6.8. Thai Silk Production
The Thai silk moth is adapted to tropical conditions and is multivoltine, producing at least ten batches of eggs each year. Silk from the Thai moth is hand reeled from green cocoons. These are cocoons that still contain the live pupae. These small cocoons do not have the pupae 'stifled' or killed prior to the thread being unwound, as that would make it difficult to reel. The green cocoons are placed in hot, nearly boiling water, which loosens the end of the thread. With less than 10 days available before the moths emerge and ruin the cocoon, the Thai workers may run out of time, limiting the scale of the industry. Even experienced workers rarely produce more than 300g per day. The pupae may be eaten by local workers. Similar production techniques have been used in India, although increasingly Indian silk is woven using machines.
6.9. Chinese and Japanese Silk Production
The moth favoured in China and Japan is univoltine or bivoltine, producing one or two batches of eggs annually, which enter a diapausal state (suspended development) and can then be treated to induce hatching at a commercially convenient time. Cocoons are large and lend themselves to machine reeling, offering a long, continuous filament.
The adult moths retained for reproduction purposes are too fat to fly, as the best fliers do not produce as much silk. The stifled or dead pupae are usually composted to feed the mulberry trees. Whilst the tropical silkworm favoured by Thailand is a natural, hardy creature quite capable of surviving in the wild state, the larvae farmed by the industrialized mass production techniques of China and Japan are selectively bred creatures aimed at maximum output for minimum input.
6.10. The Silk Thread
Silk is a continuous filament fibre consisting of fibroin protein secreted from two salivary glands in the head of each larva and a gum called sericin which cements the two filaments together. Silk must be reeled off the cocoon quickly before the pupa begins to rot and taint the thread with unpleasant smells. The cocoon is then softened in hot water to remove the sericin, which frees the silk filament ends for reeling or filature. Single filaments are drawn from cocoons in water bowls and combined to form yarn. This yarn is drawn under tension through several guides and eventually wound onto reels. The yarn is dried, packed according to quality and is now raw silk ready for marketing. The worn and withered body of what was intended to become the wondrous flying creature slips silently away.
6.11. Fibre Properties
Silk is a natural protein fibre containing about 70-75% of actual fibre fibroin and about 25-30% sericin. Silk filaments are very fine and long - as much as 300 to 900 metres in length. Silk has a high natural lustre and sheen of a white or cream colour; and is one of the strongest fibres at 2.6 to 4.8 grams per denier. When it is dry the elongation (elastic recovery) varies from 10-25% and when wet it will elongate as much as 33-35%. Silk has a relatively high standard moisture regain of 11%. At saturation the regain is 25-35%. Silk can bedyed before or after it has been woven into a cloth. It can be woven or knitted.
6.12. Types of Silk
Next, the raw silk is twisted into a strand sufficiently strong for weaving or knitting. This procedure is called throwing, and prevents the thread from splitting into its constituent fibres. Four different types of silk thread may be produced from this procedure: crepe, tram, thrown singles and organzine.
Crepe is made by twisting individual threads of raw silk, doubling two or more of these together, and then twisting them again. Tram is made by twisting two or more threads in only one direction. Thrown singles are individual threads that are twisted in only one direction. Organzine is a thread made by giving the raw silk a preliminary twist in one direction and then twisting two of these threads together in the opposite direction. In general, organzine thread is used for the warp threads of materials, tram threads for the weft or filling, crepe thread for weaving crinkly fabrics and a single thread for sheer fabrics.
Broken or waste filaments and damaged cocoons are retained, treated to remove the sericin, and combed. This is then processed into yarn, marketed as spun silk, which is inferior in character to the reeled product and much cheaper. Low grade silk is made from damaged cocoons that were spoiled by emerging moths used for breeding stock. Filaments from the coarse outer portion of the cocoon, which is removed by brushing before reeling, and the inner portion of the cocoon, which remains after reeling the raw silk, are mixed with silk from damaged cocoons to make low grade silk. In common with all other animal production systems, nothing is wasted if it can be sold.
After the silk is harvested from the cocoons it is brought to the weavers for dyeing and preparation for weaving. Today most dyes are chemical although a lac (insect) dye was once used as well as plant dyes. Another product of sericulture is silkworm gut. Immediately before the cocoon stage, pupae are killed by immersion in an acid bath. Their bodies are opened and the fluid, which hardens upon contact with the air and would otherwise be used to build the cocoon, is removed from their silk glands. This 'gut' was once favoured by surgeons for stitching and by anglers for lines, but has now been almost entirely replaced by nylon, although it still figures in some surgical and contraceptive applications.
6.13. World Silk Production
World silk production has more than doubled during the last 30 years in spite of the availability of man-made fibres. China and Japan have been the main silk producers, together manufacturing more than half of the world production each year. Chinese silk is highly prized throughout the world. Since 1949 silk making methods have been modernized and silk is of better quality.
World Raw Silk Production Statistics by Year
6.14. Yes To Silk
Silk is used for suits, coats, trousers, jackets, shirts, ties, lingerie, hosiery, gloves, lace, curtains, linings and handbags. Synthetic fibres such as nylon and polyester are stronger than silk and lower in price. In common with western factory farming techniques, the main areas of silk production are labour intensive, automated and soul-less. The terminology - stifled for killed and crop for pupae - echoes the denial that we are dealing with living creatures which are awe inspiring when one considers their metamorphic life-cycle.
Plant fibres are capable of producing some amazing fabrics. Fibres from the pineapple, for example, may be made into fabrics as strong and lustrous as any silk. Synthetic fibres e.g. nylon produced from minerals, polyester from petroleum spirit (Terylene, Dacron) or acrylic from oil and coal (Courtelle, Orlon, Dralon) also have their place.
7. Sericulture History and Background in Kenya
Kenya is one of the African countries where sericulture was introduced in 1904 but remained the business of a few individual farmers. In 1972 the Ministry of Agriculture through the Government approached the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to assist in establishing the viability of sericulture in Kenya. Sericulture was then introduced in Kenya by the Japanese government in 1973 through a sponsored project. Initially they used locally grown mulberry varieties (used as ornamentals and for their berries, introduced in Kenya by the Italians during the first and Second World Wars) to rear the first lot of disease free egg-laying moths.
They assisted in the introduction and establishment of more mulberry varieties (5 acres) and silkworm rearing in the sericulture station within the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Thika centre facility. The Sericulture project was organized into 8 rural silk centers in the country, namely Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Thika, Machakos, Baringo, Homabay, Bungoma and Murang’a. From the Thika centre farmers received mulberry cuttings and bivoltine silkworm eggs, which are hatched and reared to produce silk cocoons. Research focusing on the suitability of local conditions for sericulture was done and it established that sericulture was viable with good returns, and hence Kenya has potential since:
- Climatic conditions in Kenya are ideal for mulberry cultivation and equally suitable for rearing throughout the year, indeed up to 30 tons per hectare per year has been recorded in Thika centre
- There are no natural disasters e.g. severe frosts
- Silkworm can be reared in simple structures and equipment
- Cheap labour is available
- Quality of cocoons is good with average cocoon filament of 1200metres
In the eight silk centres, and with JICA’s support, good harvests were realized as further proof that sericulture could be done successfully in Kenya. The activity picked up for some years but receded due to winding up of the project in 1982. The Ministry of Agriculture has continued with the work with very little external support. Presently some of the areas still practicing sericulture include Turbo division (Sambut area), Laikipia district (Mutirithia area); Thika district (Kakuzi area); Murang’a district (Mathioya and Makuyu areas); Nakuru district (Lanet, Bahati and Elbugon areas); Nyeri district( Mweiga area); Lamu district (Mpeketoni area).
In 1992, ICIPE innovation Trust (I.I.T.), an autonomous non-profit organization was mandated to initiate sericulture pilot project in Kenya. The principal objective was to establish and promote a community-based sericulture industry in the country through demonstration and training. It has also played an important role in supplying of silkworm eggs. To date, this has continued in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture providing the necessary extension and technical back-up to the farmers. It has moreover, provided one of the marketing outlets for the small-scale silk production farmers.
However, sericulture involves four interdependent agro-industrial activities of mulberry farming for leaf production, silkworm rearing, silk cocoon reeling to make fibre (yarn), silk spinning and fabric weaving.
8. Mulberry Agronomy
Mulberry is a hardy crop, deep rooted and can do well in almost all types of soils. It requires a rainfall of 400mm and above. However it is a drought tolerant crop, hence can thrive in arid and semi-arid areas.
8.2. Mulberry Varieties Suitable for Different Ecological Zones
Low Rainfall Areas
Kanva 2 (Ex-India), Ex-Embu and Ithanga do well in these areas. Examples are Machakos, Laikipia and Isinya in Kajiado district.
High Rainfall Areas
Ex -Thika and Ex-Thailand do well in this zone. Some of these areas include Nyeri, Kiambu, Muranga and Bahati in Nakuru.
8.3. Mulberry Orchard Establishment
There are two methods of mulberry orchard establishment:
1. Direct planting:
This should only be done when there is enough rainfall or irrigation for they do not take root easily.
2. Nursery Establishment:
Depending on the type of soils and amount of rainfall in an area, prepare seedbed 2½ months before the onset of rains. These can be raised or sunken depending on soil drainage properties. The width of the nursery is 4ft (1.2m) and any convenient length. Mix half (½) a debe of well decomposed farmyard manure into every 3ft2 (1m2)
Cuttings should be taken from mature shoots i.e. grey part. Cut slightly slanting 2cm above the top bud. The size of the cutting is 6 inches (15cm) with 3 buds.
Spacing is 6 inches x 6 inches (15cmX15cm). Watering should be done regularly. Only one shoot is allowed to grow and weeds are removed when noticed.
Fig 1: Mulberry Cuttings
This is the transfer of saplings from the nursery to the main field. Saplings are ready for transplanting after 3 – 4 months. Transplanting is done early in the morning, late in the evening or any time of the day when the weather is cool. The shoots should be trimmed to reduce loss of water by transpiration, while the roots should be trimmed to avoid wilting of the sapling from bent roots.
Spacing of mulberry plantation:
5ft x 2½ft (1.5mX0.75m) for rain fed mulberry and 4ft x 2½ft (1.2X0.75) for irrigated mulberry. This will give a population of 4,000 trees per acre.
Digging of holes:
The size of the planting hole should be1½ft x 1½ft (45 x 45cm). Separate topsoil from subsoil and mix the topsoil with half (½) debe of well decomposed farmyard manure and 50gms of D.A.P. or either per hole. Trim the roots and remove the shoot to avoid loss of water. At the onset of the rains, plant the sapling in the basin formed at least 10cm below ground level. The remaining space will be filled up with more soil when the shoots sprout and this will encourage the formation of secondary roots.
Store any remaining cuttings or saplings for planting on the following day by digging a hole and placing them upright. Support them with soil at the base, place grass on them and sprinkle some water.
PIC 1: Mulberry Orchard
Legumes and other horticultural crops (e.g. Capsicums, eggplant, okra, etc) can be planted between the mulberry rows, using the standard cultivation. However, climbers or any other legume that requires spraying of chemicals that are harmful to the silkworm should not be inter-cropped. Inter-cropping gives the farmer an additional income in the first year.
8.6. Training of Mulberry Bushes for Maximum Leaf Production
Three months after the mulberry has been established, prune at the base level. This will allow more shoots to grow from the base. When these ones attain a height of 3ft select 3 strong shoots and prune at 1ft above the ground to establish the pruning table.
Fig 2: Seedling Pruning 0-3 Months
Fig 3: Pruned Tree Showing Fist
PIC. 2 Mulberry bush showing the fist at 1 foot (30 cm) above the ground
8.7. Orchard Maintenance
Weeding should be done 2 weeks after pruning to avoid competition for nutrients and water between weeds and the pruned mulberry. Weeding can be done manually or by spraying of herbicides, however, mulberry leaves from a sprayed orchard should not be used to feed worms within duration of one month from the time of spraying.
Fertilizer and Manure application:
Apply half a debe(1/2) ) of well decomposed farmyard manure and 100gm of NPK (17:17:17, 20:10:10, 23:23:0) or CAN fertilizer per plant in two splits i.e half in the long rain and the other half in the short rains for every year to increase mulberry yields.
PIC 3: Shoot harvesting / pruning
Harvesting starts 9 months after transplanting. Each plant produces an average of 1.0kg of leaves in the first season and this can be used for silkworm rearing. On maturity in the 3rd year, the tree should produce 2kg per tree giving a total of yield of 20 m/tons/ha/season of mulberry leaf. Depending on the rainfall patterns, 4-5 crops can be realized in a year.
Methods of Harvesting
There are several methods of harvesting leaf for feeding of silkworms, however the most used methods are:
- Leaf Plucking – individual leaves are harvested from the stem.
- Shoot harvesting – shoots with leaves are pruned at 30cm from the ground. (Pic 3.0)
Avoid harvesting yellow and diseased leaves.
8.8. Mulberry Diseases
The most common mulberry diseases are:-
i) Septoria leaf spot.
Dark brown spots with clear boundaries and White Center. Occasionally the spots enlarge to cover the whole leaf. Under field conditions older leaves have been found to be susceptible.
Leaf for feeding silkworm should be harvested at the recommended period to avoid leaf spot
attacks. Infected leaves should be removed and burnt.
ii) Powdery Mildew
Prevalent during the cold months and under humid conditions.
Greyish powder found on the underside of the leaves.
Maintain proper spacing and timely harvesting.
9. Silkworm Rearing
Bombyx mori silkworm is a domesticated lepidoptera (moth) insect whose larvae (the silkworm) is reared for production of silk.
Fig. 5 Life Cycle of bombyx mori (Silkworm):
9.2. Rearing House
Silkworms are reared in a specially built house with adequate ventilation, light and should be rodent proof. Size of house is determined by size of mulberry orchard and amount of silkworms to be reared. The size of the rearing house should be 7m x 5m (25ft x 15ft) and 3m high for rearing 2 cases (40,000) of silkworms. Locally available building materials can be used such as bamboo, off cuts, timber, stones, mud,bricks etc. to build the walls. Roof should be made from Iron sheets.
Chicken wire mesh
Coffee wire mesh
Masonry stones/offcut wall
Front Elevation Elevation
Fig. 6: Sketch of rearing house
Rearing beds 2X1m
Rearing beds 2X1m
Rearing beds 2X1m
Rearing beds 2X1m
Fig.7: floor plan of a rearing house
9.3. Rearing House Site Selection
The rearing house should be far away from farm animals and crops that require regular spraying. If possible it should be near the mulberry field. It should also be away from water logged areas. Doors and windows should face a North – South direction to avoid direct sunlight into the rearing room.
9.4. Rearing Equipment
The following are the basic equipment enough to rear two (2) cases (40,000 silkworms):
1) Rearing beds – 17 trays of 2m x 1m stacked in 4 deckers arranged in 4 rows. The extra bed is used during bed cleaning. Alternatively you can have 36 Rearing trays of 1m x 1m with 6 rearing stands to carry 6 trays each. 4 extra trays are for bed cleaning.
2) Nets for bed cleaning.
3) Paraffin papers or perforated plastic paper to prevent withering of leaf and preserve humidity in the rearing bed.
4) Rearing papers/old clean newspapers.
5) Mountages for spinning.
- Chandrike – 40.
- 260 partitions and 26 rotary frames
- Wooden partition. (Picture 7)
6) Leaf picking bags (baskets).
7) Feeding stands.
8) Chopping knives.
9) Chopping boards.
10) Chopping table.
11) Ant wells for ants and humidity regulation.
12) Knapsack sprayer
13) Protective clothing
PIC. 4 Rearing beds arranged in 4 deckers
Disinfection is carried out prior to commencement of rearing as a precaution against pathogens, which remain in the room from, infecting the worms being reared. The room being disinfected should be kept airtight during disinfection and remain closed for 15 - 20 hours after. It should be opened 24 hours before introduction of worms. Disinfection is done using 2% formalin solution. To achieve this, add 1lt of formalin concentrate into 19lts of water. You require 40 litres of formalin solution to cover a room of 5m x 7m x 3m. Before disinfection, all rearing equipment should be cleaned and returned into the rearing house. Bleaching powder is spread in a single layer around the house and foot bath to maintain hygiene.
Spraying should be done using a knapsack sprayer and wearing protective clothing.
9.6. Temperature and Humidity
Silkworms do well in a temperature range of 23 – 28oC; with high temperatures for the younger worms and lower temperatures for the older worms. Humidity should range from 70 – 85; high for the younger worms and low for the older worms.
Temperature and humidity can be moderated by use of wet gunny bags/wet newspapers hung on the walls or pouring water on cemented floors. Optimum temperatures and humidity for rearing silkworms of different instars are as follows:
Table 1: Temperature/Humidity
INSTARS TEMPERATURE HUMIDITY
1ST 26-28 85
2ND 26-28 85
3RD 24-26 80
4TH 24-25 75
5TH 23-24 70
9.7. Egg Incubation and Hatching
Silkworm rearing starts with silkworm egg incubation. For healthy development and uniform hatching, eggs are incubated under optimum temperature 250C and humidity 800 – 85%. Under these condition eggs are expected to hatch within 10 – 12 days
PIC. 5 Silkworm eggs – 1 case (equivalent to 20,000 worms)
Brushing (1st feeding) of Silkworm Larvae
When the newly hatched larvae appear they should be gently and carefully transferred to rearing bed covered with paraffin paper or old newspaper.
There are two acceptable methods of brushing.
- Chop tender (3rd and 4th leaf) mulberry leave into small 0.5cm2 and sprinkle over the egg card. The hatched silkworms crawl onto the tender leaves and start feeding. Later the cards are removed and any larve still left on paraffin paper – are tapped gently onto the rearing bed. After sometime the bed is uniformly prepared in the rearing tray and the first feeding is given.
- Sometimes the hatched worms are brushed with feather from the egg card directly onto the rearing bed.
Stages of growth and their feeding
Silkworms undergo 4 moultings in the larval stage (instars) and are fed according to these instars.
1st stage – This is the first feeding and should be fed with young tender leaves plucked from 3rd and 4th leave from the tip of the shoot. These are chopped into small size and fed for 4 days. After which the worms go into moult (sleep). The worms should be covered with paraffin paper.
Moulting – After each stage in the life cycle of the larvae silkworms shade their skin before entering the next stage. This takes 18 – 24 hours (1 day) and the worms should not be fed.
- Swollen heads.
- Raised heads.
- Immobility of the worms.
At this time the bed should be left dry and uncovered.
Indicators of getting out of moult
- The worms are active and move around.
- The mouth part is broader.
- The body is dull with loose skin.
Spread out the worms evenly to enhanced dryness in the bed – and increase the area they occupy. Feed the worms only when they come out of moult.
2nd stage - feed 3rd and 4th young leaves below the big glossy leave. Chopped into small sizes for four days.
3rd stage – feed on leaves harvested from the green part of stem / shoot for three days.
4th stage – feed on good shoots for 6 days.
5th stage – feed on whole shoot for 7 / 8 days. During feeding always maintain a single layer
of leaves. See Table 1.0
PIC 6: Silkworms feeding on mulberry leaves
TABLE 2.0: REQUIREMENTS FOR REARING OF ONE CASE OF SILKWORMS:
Age / Day
Leaf weight per day
Leaf / shoot remarks per day
Harvest 1st and 2nd young leaves
Harvest leaves that are on the green part of young shoot
Harvest good shoot
(1-1 ½ m) meters
worms start cocooning
9.9. Bed Cleaning
Bed cleaning is done to remove faecal matter, dead worms and leaf remnants which would promote fungal growth. It is done after every moult for the young silkworms and every other day for the mature worms. Before feeding after worms have moulted, spread a net and leaves on top. Worms will crawl up to feed. Remove the worms using the net to another bed / tray and clean the waste. Discard the waste in the nearest composite pit.
9.10. Silkworm Density/Worm Spacing (See table 2)
This entails provision of adequate rearing space. Spread worms evenly not to overlap each other. As worms increase in size, transfer some to another bed / tray to avoid overcrowding. Overcrowding causes underfeeding, spread of diseases and suffocation.
TABLE 3: REARING DENSITY OF 1 CASE OF SILKWORM
Silkworms start spinning after 8 days in the fifth (5th) stage. Larvae cease to take food and crawl restlessly in search of a corner to attach themselves for spinning. They appear creamish as they are full of silk. These are mature worms fit for spinning cocoons. Mature worms are collected on trays by hand and transferred to mountages. Put the right number of worms on the mountages to avoid overcrowding and formation of double cocoons. Diseased worms should be discarded. Papers should be spread on the floor to absorb urine and changed when they become dump.
90 – 100 larvae should be mounted per square foot (1ft2)
Environmental conditions for mounting
Temperature should not exceed 26oC. Humidity should be between 60 – 70 %. These two affect the reelability of the cocoons.
PIC. 7: Rotary Mountage
PIC. 8 Mounted cocoons
9.12. Cocoon Harvesting and Transportation
Cocoons are harvested on the 7th to 8th day from the inception of spinning. By this time the worm will have completed spinning of cocoon and transformed into pupa. To confirm this, cut 2 or 3 cocoons to check whether pupae are fully formed. The optimum time for harvesting is when the pupae turn brown in color and become hard.
De-flossing – After harvesting all loose fibers on cocoons surface is removed, giving it a clean Look, ready for market.
Sorting/ Selection – sorting of good, defective, double, pierced, stained cocoons is done.
- Use well aerated bags (cotton) to carry cocoons.
- Do not press cocoons.
9.13. Silkworm Pests and Diseases
Since silkworms are domesticated, they are susceptible to disease and pest attack.
- Proper disinfection and strict hygiene followed will prevent diseases and ensure successful harvest.
- Common silkworm diseases are Grasserie, Pebrin, Flacherie and Muscardine.
TABLE 4: MOST COMMON DISEASES AFFECTING SILKWORMS
Oily/shinny skin in young worms. Thin skin, milky white body with swollen inter segments in later stage. Larvae are restless and fall off the bed. This is because it losses grasping power.
Thorough disinfection of the rearing house and equipment. Hyegine in the rearinghouse and sufficient ventilation. Discard of infected worms by burning or burying. Dry rearing beds. Avoid tender leaves for late stage of worms.
Poor appetite, irregular moulting, death before 3rd stage. Wrinkled skin with rustic brown color and sometimes pepper like spots on the larval skin.
Thorough disinfection of the rearing house and strict hyeginic conditions during rearing.
Highly contigious. Loss of appetite, transparent thorax, shrinkage of the body, retarded growth and empty foregut. Empty unigut with little mulberry but full of yellowish brownish fluid.
Thorough disinfection of rearing house and appliances. Recommended climatic conditions for rearing. Complete disposal of diseased larvae together with their faeces through burning or burying.
Moist specks on the skin, worm losses appetite and is inactive. Limp body and loose skin. Diarrhea, vomiting and eventually death. 6-8 hours after death, it becomes stiff and hard.
Thorough disinfection of rearing house and appliances.Avoid low temperature and humidity during rearing. Keep bed clean and dry, discard diseased worms through burning or putting in formalin solution.
- Safari and black ants
- Put coffee tray wire mesh on all the windows, crevices and any openings that open into the rearing house.
- Maintain cleanliness both within the house and outside.
- Sprinkle one layer of bleaching powder around the rearing house.
10. Cocoon Post Harvest
Silkworms are reared for the sole purpose of obtaining cocoons which form the raw material for silk production. This includes various activities, listed as follows:
- Doubling and Twisting
- Floss production
Grading is done to determine the quality of cocoons and hence the price. As far as possible, cocoons with the same color, shape, size and weight should be grouped together. Cocoons with perforations, stains, thin shells and double cocoons cannot be reeled. Such cocoons can however be used to make silk floss.
Drying is done so as to kill the pupae and to improve the storage conditions of the cocoon. If cocoons are not dried, the pupae will develop into moths and emerge from the cocoon. This would cut and thus damage the silk filament.
How to dry:
- They can be sun dried though this will take a longer time.
- A drier is constructed and paraffin stoves, charcoal or firewood can be used. Ensure that the smoke is controlled so that the cocoons are not stained by soot. A solar dryer can also be used.
- Test if the cocoons are dry by cutting the shell and rubbing the pupa between the thumb and the fingers. If it crushes into powder, the cocoon is sufficiently dry.
- Another way of ensuring that the cocoons are dry is by drying them to 40% of the wet cocoon weight.
- Where a drier is in use, temperatures of 70-800C are most ideal.
PIC. 9 Cocoon drying using stoves
10.3. Cocoon Storage
Storage is done in cotton bags or well-aerated baskets. Complete drying of the cocoons before storage is a must to avoid mould attack. It is important to have a rat proof building to store cocoons. Storage bags or room should have good ventilation and relative humidity should not be over 70%. Cocoons should be turned frequently during storage. Ensure the cocoons remain dry by placing the storage baskets on racks.
PIC. 10: Cocoons in a perforated plastic basket
Reeling is the unwinding of the silk filament from the cocoon using a reeling machine. It is done using the reelable cocoons.
- Take the weight of the cocoons.
- Boil water that is enough to soak all the cocoons so that they can soften.
- Pour all the cocoons into the boiling water and soak for one minute.
- Remove from the boiling water and deep them into lukewarm water for 1 min.
- Return them into the boiling water and boil for 1 min.
- Remove them and soak them in the lukewarm water for 1 min.
- Return them into the boiling water and boil for 10 min.
- Add cold water to hand working temperature and stir with a brush to get the cocoon ends.
- Hold the ends and transfer the cocoons into the reeling bath (basin). Twist the selected ends and thread onto the reels. The number of ends depend on the ‘denier’ (thickness) of the thread (yarn) required.
- Re-reel the yarn for easy drying and to standardize the circumference of the reeled yarn.
- Prepare ‘skeins’ and store in standard bundles called ‘books’.
Pic. 11 Silk Skein Pic. 12 Book.
PIC 13 Unwinding of silk fibre using a reeling machine
10.5. Doubling and Twisting
This is done to improve the thickness and strength of the yarn. It is done by joining more than one skein.
Degumming is the process through which some seracin, wax, tar and coloring materials are removed from the silk fibre to make it easy to dye.
Procedure of Degumming 100gm of Silk Yarn:
- Boil water, add 10-15gms of soap and stir until the soap is dissolved completely.
- Add 3-5gms of sodium bicarbonate into the boiling water.
- Dip (soak) the yarn into the solution and boil for 2 hours then rinse in cold clean water.
- Boil 3-5lt of water; add 3-5gm of sodium bicarbonate.
- Soak the yarn in the solution and boil for 15 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water and hang under shade to dry.
- After degumming the yarn can be dyed if necessary. It is now ready for weaving.
10.7. Floss Production
Floss is produced from the non-reelable cocoons e.g. soiled, pierced, double etc.
Procedure (500grams of shells):
- Cut the cocoon shell and remove the pupa.
- Boil 12litres water and add 60gm of sodium bicarbonate.
- Dip the cut shells into the boiling solution and boil for 11/2 hours.
- Remove the boiled shells (by now they are soft) and rinse thoroughly.
- Dry them, spread, spin, dye and weave as required.
Pic. 14: Spread Floss.
After processing of the silk yarn, silk materials are woven into fabric. The silk yarn can be blended with other yarns, such as cotton and wool, and made into fabrics.
Pic. 15: Silk Materials
11. Ministry of Agriculture Extension Services
Sericulture staff at the National Sericulture Station in Thika offer extension services both at the centre and in the field (nation wide). The centre, in conjunction with District Extension Services and other stakeholders organize farm visits, field days, exhibitions and participates in National Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) shows.
Training of Agriculture extension staff, farmers and other agro-processors is also undertaken by the station staff.
Pic. 16: Sericulture staff training farmers at Sabasaba, Murang'a South, Central Province
12. Marketing Strategies and Structure
12.1. The local Market
The silk fibre that is produced in Kenya is consumed by the cottage industry in the country. A survey carried out showed that the finer silk fabric found in the shops is imported.
This shows that there is market for silk fabric as well as fibre in Kenya.
12.2. The World Market
A thirteen-year study by the W.T.O. published in 2001 shows that there is a decline in silk production while consumption has remained near constant. Silk fibre production in 1988 was at a high of 100,000 metric tonnes and by 1999 it had dropped to 72,000 metric tonnes. This was as a result of the traditional silk producing countries shifting from labour intensive sericulture to more lucrative industrial opportunities.
China is the leading producer at 72% of world supply and its production declined by 35% between 1988 and 1999.
The largest silk consumers are Japan, U.S.A., India, Italy, Bangladesh, France, Germany and Korea. Demand for silk fibre supersedes the supply in the world market.
Kenya can exploit this situation.
One of the major markets that are open to Kenya is the African Growth and Opportunity Act – AGOA of the U.S.A. The US annually imports silk goods valued at U.S. $ 2 billion per year (1997).
12.3. The Way Forward in Marketing
To realize the farm gate profits as shown in Table 4.0 here below, the farmers need to have managed their farms in the recommended regime and to have a consistent market where they sell their cocoon harvests.
The government is actively encouraging farmers to form their own community based organizations through which they can market their produce.
This will ensure that the farmer is directly involved in the marketing of their produce and this approach to marketing will eliminate exploitation by middlemen, which has often been the case with most cash crops and results in reduced incomes at the farm gate level.
Other market outlets are:
- The EPZ (Export Processing Zone) in Athi River
- I.C.I.P.E – Nairobi
- Pendeza weavers – Kisumu
- Spin Weave – Nairobi
- The local cottage industry (A survey carried out showed that the finer silk fabric found in the shops is imported)
- The export market, especially AGOA
Table 5.0: PRODUCTION DATA TABLE
12.4. Gross Margins for 1 Acre
Table 6: GROSS MARGINS FOR 1 ACREA
UNIT COST (USD)
TOTAL COST (USD)
Digging of holes
Rearing House (50,000/)
Income 1st year (20 kg/case) from cocoon sales
Income from cocoon sales
YEARS 3 - 15
Income from sale of cocoons
13. Operational Plans
13.1. Locations & Facilities
Description of Premises
Main In-store Facilities
Owned or Leased?
To be developed on site
List of abbreviations
African Caribbean and Pacific
African Growth and Opportunity Act
Agreement on Agriculture
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
East African Cooperation
East African Fine Coffee Association
Economic Community of Western African States
Economic Partnership Agreement
Export Promotion Council
Export Processing Zone
Food and Agricultural Marketing Information system
Famine Early Warning System Network
Inter-Governmental Authority on Development
Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange
Kenya Private Sector Alliance
Market Information Branch
Market information System
Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Trade
Regional Agricultural Trade Expansion Support Program
Regional Agricultural Trade Information Network
Special and Differential Treatment
Southern African Development Community
Southern African Development Community
Short Message Service
Sanitary and Phytosanitary
Technical Barriers to Trade
Technical Barriers to Trade
Trade Policy Review Mechanism
Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights
United State Agency for International Development
World Trade Organization
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