Silk: A Gold Mine That Needs To Be Tapped

Silk: A Gold Mine That Needs To Be Tapped

By: Rogia al-Shafee



KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Over the years, Sudanese farmers and agronomists have experimented on the growing of the mulberry trees on which the silkworm feeds to produce the world’s most expensive, luxury cloth.


But this profitable industry had always lacked sustainability and government support.


Very recently a number of youths in Gurair village of the Meroe District of Northern Sudan have celebrated the success of growing mulberry trees together with other useful Mediterranean trees, namely grapes, olives and pomegranate.


In that context Mr. Usama Abdalla, a notable of the Blue Nile State (south-east), says the Russairis Nursery had in the mid-1970s seen the first experiment to grow mulberries and produce silk. “The Russairis Nursery experiment was quite a success and its produce of silk was rated of first degree quality which at that time fetched $17 a pound,” he says. Abdalla said the experiment did not receive due government care otherwise this cash crop could have benefited the Sudan a good deal.


“With little effort and on a few meters’ area about a thousand pounds of silk can be produced every month: That is $204, 000,” argues Abdalla.


“The situation could be magnificent if a thousand silk laboratories are set on a thousand acre area grown with mulberries. This could have been far better than many projects that consume a lot of money,” he adds.


After the Russairis experiment and in Kassala (east) an NGO had launched a huge silk laboratory with cadres trained in and outside the country. That laboratory had produced commercial quantities of silk which were transported to Kenya for weaving. But, like the experiment in Russairis, this project could not fly high and was contented with the production of silk worms and silk fiber on a small scale within the Productive Families and Rural Women Empowerment projects.


Silk worm husbandry is classified among small scale projects that suit youths, given their low cost.


But the real challenge is the understanding of the idea and the good care of the worms that are subject to pest infestations. Another challenge is knowledge about how the output can be marketed.


The silk worm is important in that it produces an important natural stuff (silk) which is manufactured into fine cloth and luxurious dresses. This valuable yarn is also used in several other purposes, including in the stitching of surgical operations wounds.


There is high demand for natural silk on the global market. The People’s Republic of China, that produces 65% of the World’s silk output, is the World’s biggest silk producer. There is a big gap of silk production in the Arab region which Sudan can redress with little attention, according to agricultural experts.


Silk production activity is of two dimensions: agricultural and industrial.


The agricultural aspect of silk production relates to the growing of mulberry trees, the production of eggs and the nurturing of larvae that produce silk.


The industrial aspect caters for the preparation of yarn and the manufacturing of textiles.


By those definitions, silk production can create lots of jobs and constitute a suitable economic venture.




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