Reviewing the silk trade
Kashmir has been traditionally known as one of the silk producing hubs in the entire south Asian region. No wonder then that the trade provided employment to thousands of people here but also contributed heavily towards the GDP of the state.
However, the past several decades have witnessed a downslide in the silk trade and the famed Silk factory, a government enterprise, faced closure much to the displeasure of those who were associated with the trade and the silk factory, that produced marvelous quality of silk.
Now after trying its hand on reviving the Industry, the government has initiated revival of silk factory at Solina after decades of its closure. The move has not only rekindled hope among erstwhile traders but the cocoon producers too are ecstatic about it.
Now as the Solina Silk factory would be put back into the business by the Industries and the Commerce Department, the move will put all those traders and silk producers back into business who were forced to close down owing to the fall of the entire industry.
It was in 1988 that the filatures bought from European countries last reeled silk yarns. The lotus variety of raw silk produced in Kashmir was comparable to the classical variant of Italy and petit extra of France. The product of Kashmir was in high demand throughout the world. Since 1988, filatures in the unit were gathering dust.
However, with revival of Solina Silk factory the government is aiming at an annual production of 10 lakh metres of silk fabric with having end to end solutions.
This is not the first time silk sector is making coming back. It has earlier done too made come back from deathbed. In 1870’s disease broke out in Kashmir because some of the seed imported from Europe was diseased.
Unfortunately, there was hardly anyone possessing any technical knowledge of the industry who could control the disease which crippled the industry. The epidemic destroyed the whole crop of the worms and the Industry was virtually closed in the State.
The industry in its present form was organized in 1897 in Kashmir Valley with the corporation of Sir Thomas Wardle, President, Silk Association of Great Britain, who was largely impressed by the immense potential possessed by the state for the silk.
Kashmir has a wide range of verities in silk textile designs . The weaves popularly known as ‘Chinon’ and ‘Crepe de Chine’ are some of the fine qualities produced from the silk yarn.
The trade which witnessed a massive production of 15 lakh kilograms of cocoons produced in 1940 to just 3 lakh kilograms in 2012, saw various ups and downs. Kashmir silk industry struggles to keep pace with the modern times. The shining silk shawls, carpets and rugs which once fascinated travelers, traders, visitors and even ordinary tourists have almost vanished from the display windows of shops in Kashmir.
The industry therefore, needs a well thought out and a planned market oriented strategy that should aim at making the brand visible in all the markets that matter. For ensuring that the local brains that have been aiming at nurturing the Industry to its peak need to be involved. That can be the best service the government can do to revive the trade and the craft of producing fine quality silk.