By Elias Hakizimana.
Mulberry plantation is expected to increase to 10,000 hectares by 2023 from the current 2,000 hectares. The development will be giving 7,500 tonnes of cocoons according to Dr Sohn Kee Wook, Sericulture Director at HeWorks Rwanda Silk Ltd.
Rwanda’s sericulture sector is looking for ways to support mulberry farmers so that silk production gets a significant boost in coming years so as to increase silk cocoons.
According to Dr Wook, this initiative will be implemented through two ways, one being the incentivising farmers by extra payment of Rwf15 per a mulberry tree.
This move is expected to rise income to farmers in line with improving their lives.
The sector is supported by the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) where they provide iron sheets for construction of silkworm rearing houses.
The sector also created jobs for a number of farmers who are paid Rwf100,000 each.
From the cocoons, HeWorks Rwanda Silk Ltd is going to process raw silk for export as a silk factory to make yarn from cocoons produced on 2,700 ha is being constructed in Bugesera District to perform this initiative.
“We asked the ministry of trade (MINICOM) to provide us five hectares of land (50,000 m2) to expand the production. Next year 2019, we are going to start a construction of a big factory that will have [capacity to process cocoons from] 10,000 hectares of mulberry plantation,” Wook observed.
One kilogramme of raw silk is $70 at export market, which means that it can generate $70,000,000 for export when it is multiplied with 1,000 tonnes.
Currently, the firm employs 3,000 farmers who are participating in Mulberry plantation and silkworm rearing. It is expected that they will reach to 20,000 farmers by 2023.
“I believe Sericulture can produce more income than any other agriculture crops, so I am sure that , farmers who will participate in this Sericulture will get reach and soon, I hope many farmers engage in it,” Dr Sohn said.
Cocoon production and silkworm rearing is one of emerging sectors in agribusiness that are beneficial to farmers. It is also one of the sources of silk fabrics meant to boost made in Rwanda products.
Farmers welcome the boost
Leodomir Tabaro from Musanze District, Rwaza Sector, Nyarubuye Cell who was awarded during the HeWorks competition initiative in the recent national agriculture show at Mulindi, Gasabo District from June 26 to July 3, 2018, said he embraced mulberry cultivation on a half a hectare.
He said he attended the exhibition to explore further the silk sector business, and found it is profitable to expand the plantation.
Over 100,000 participants visited his stands. He organised competitions to motivate people in Rwanda to join sericulture as it still at early stage.
Dr Sohn promised Rwandans that the silk cocoons that have been famous in Korea will be soon available in Rwanda and in a big quantity.
“Our technician agronomists will guide whoever needs to start mulberry farming and silk business. HEworks-Rwanda partners with NAEB in each district in helping farmers who needs to practice this business,” Dr Sohn said.
Pie Ntwari, the NAEB Head of Communication and Public Relations said that silk sector is contributing a lot to developing Made-in-Rwanda campaign as it benefits the whole value chain, from mulberry farmer to the silk producer.
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