Despite the recent increase in the prices of silk cocoon, L’Usine Textile du Rwanda (UTEXRWA) is still receiving low supplies of these raw materials to stimulate Rwanda’s silk industry which researchers regarded as more profitable than coffee.
Information from the country’s sole textile factory shows that only 60 Kgs of cocoon have been supplied since the prices were increased a month ago.
A Kilo of silk cocoons in the first grade (dried and sorted) now goes for Rwf3,300 up from Rwf3,000. Prices for the third and last grade have also increased from Rwf700 to Rwf950.
The Managing Director of UTEXRWA, Raj Rajendran said that farmers claim to be waiting for the rainy season for their mulberry trees to yield greatly.
“Meanwhile, others also say that they are waiting for silk-worm-eggs from National Agricultural Research Institute (ISAR). However, we are ready to buy the cocoons when they bring to us,” he added.
Silk cocoon is a spin produced by a silkworm after eating up mulberry leaves. The cocoon is treated with hot air, steam, or boiling water to kill the moth before reeling.
Rajendran suggested that since there may also be problems of drying the cocoons, the ministry of agriculture should consider establishing drying facilities in the rural areas to store cocoons for a long time.
“Farmers may also need training on how to use the rural method of killing the Pupa inside the cocoons through drying it by steam from boiling water in a drum. We can provide these training,” he added.
UTEXRWA ventured into silk production last year with an initial investment of $900,000 (Rwf511.8 million). The factory resorted to exporting the silk yarn in order to generate revenues for sustainability owing to limited supply of raw materials.
Silk is one of the crops expected to diversify the country’s exports and its production has regarded, by On-The-Frontier (OTF) Group, as one of the economic activities that are profitable and suitable for Rwanda’s economy.
Last year alone, cocoon production generated about $19,000 (Rwf10.8 million) per annum from 283 hectares.