TOP STORY: Utexrwa targets 500 hectares of mulberry trees in Kigali

This will represent a 75 percent increase of the total area where the silk producing tree is planted L’Usine Textile du Rwanda (Utexrwa), the only textile company in Rwanda, is targeting 500 hectares of mulberry trees in Kigali City within the next one year. Raj Rajendran, the Company’s Managing Director, said this will help boost the production of silk.
UTEXRWA workers monitoring the rilling machines. (File photo).
UTEXRWA workers monitoring the rilling machines. (File photo).

This will represent a 75 percent increase of the total area where the silk producing tree is planted

L’Usine Textile du Rwanda (Utexrwa), the only textile company in Rwanda, is targeting 500 hectares of mulberry trees in Kigali City within the next one year.

Raj Rajendran, the Company’s Managing Director, said this will help boost the production of silk.

“There will be availability of raw materials for silk fabrication, which are currently a challenge and limiting an increase in production.”

The crop from which a silkworm eats to produce the silk fiber is currently being cultivated at a range of about 285 hectare across the three districts of the Rwandan capital.

The 500 hectares will represent a 75 percent increase of the total area where the silk producing tree is planted.

According to company management, 500 hectares of mulberry trees would produce 750 tonnes of cocoons and 125 tonnes of yarn, on average per year. Silk yarn is drawn from the cocoons of mature silk worms that are spun and woven into fabric.

The 125 tonnes of yarn would averagely produce 875,000 metres of finished silk fabric. (A kilogramme of yarn produces about 7 metres of fabric).

The projections follow the training of trainers in sericulture under the partnership between Kigali City Council and Utexrwa. Six trainers who were awarded certificates bring the total of those trained to 110 over the past two years.

Sericulture is the art of raising silk worms to produce silk threads. According to the Mayor of Kigali City, Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the training is part of the three projects under consideration at the district to alleviate poverty.

The other projects include mushroom growing and Agaseke. The training consisted of silk worm rearing, mulberry cultivation, sericulture and cocoon production which are all components of silk production.

While the next training session is expected in June, management targets about 2000 people trained in one year across the country.

Utexrwa is also establishing handloom cooperatives countrywide to process the cocoons.

Government also target 600,000 hectares of mulberry trees planted to benefit 60,000 poor families. It pledged about Rwf154 million for training in sericulture.

The production of silk by Utexrwa started after an initial investment of $5 million in the importation of semi-automatic yarning machines.

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