Sericulture started in joint Punjab long back in the year 1895. Sericulture was confined only to the sub-montane region of the state. After the restructuring of the states major portion of the sericulture went to the share of Himachal Pradesh. In the restructured Punjab Sericulture was left in Gurdaspur District, Dhar Block of Pathankot District and in some pockets of Mukerian block in district Hoshiarpur and Nurpur Bedi in the district Ropar. 80% of the cocoon is produced in Dhar block in district Pathankot and presently about 1000 families are in the fold of sericulture producing 3 to 4 MTs raw silk and about 30,000 kgs of cocoon per year valuing about Rs. 60 lacs Sericulture wing was transferred from the Industry Department to Horticulture Department in the year 1994. Sericulture is an agro based part time family occupation mainly of the below poverty line rural poor mostly belonging to the scheduled caste and backward classes. Sericulture is highly labour oriented employing about 5 to 6 people per acre per annum. It involves the raising of food plants for silkworm, rearing of silkworm for production of cocoon reeling and spinning for production of silk yarn. Sericulture also includes the practical aspects such as increasing productivity of land as well as labour, stabilization of cocoon production, improvement of silk yarn, fabrics and generating income for rural, poor, SC and OBC people. Silk is an animal protein fibre secreted produced by silkworm spinning of the cocoon. This cocoon provides shell (shelter) for the soft and delicate caterpillar to pass the pupa stage inside it and metamorphose into a maggot (moth). Silk yarn is obtained from the silk cocoons. The state has a varied climate with May & June the hottest months when temperature rises upto 47 degree C & December & January are the coldest months recording temperature as low as 0C. Therefore, months of March-April and September-October are considered best suited for mulberry silk worm rearing. When the cocoon is ready with the farmers the department arranges cocoon mandi's in the nearby Govt. Sericulture farms for the convenience of the rearers. The rearers bring their produce which is sold through open auction. Keeping in view the agro-climatic conditions of the state one crop is taken in the spring season (March-April) when the leaf quality is good after a brief dormant period and this crop is the main crop. The Second crop of Autumn season (September-October) is taken on very small scale and the temperature is also congenial for silkworm rearing. Rearing of silkworm is short time cash crop and in just 4 to 5 weeks time a family can raise an additional income of about Rs.10,000/- to 12,000/- in a single crop. Just rearing one ounce of silk Seed the rearer can take two crops in a year. Only bivoltine cocoon is commercially explored in Punjab and quality silk can be produced. The period of silkworm rearing does not coincide with the harvesting period of other crops like wheat, paddy and maize. Thus by rearing silkworms twice in a year a family can earn approx. around Rs.20,000/- per year. The popular silkworm races are NB4 D2 x SH6 and its reciprocal.

UP