Sericulture farmers disappointed as import duty on raw silk remains untouched
Sericulture farmers in Karnataka, India’s leading raw silk producing State, are disappointed over the Union Budget’s failure to increase the customs duty on import of raw silk.
The customs duty on imported silk, which used to be around 30 per cent a couple of years ago to ensure that the price of indigenously produced silk remained competitive in the market, had been brought down to 10 per cent, affecting a large number of sericulture farmers.
At reduced import duty, the superior quality Chinese silk is available at a low rates, which pushes indigenously produced silk’s price further down.
“Sericulture farmers are already facing a tough time. We were looking forward to an increase in customs duty to the earlier 30 per cent so that Chinese silk becomes expensive for the powerloom weavers,” said Channegowda, a sericulture farmer in Kempayyanahundi village in Mysuru district’s T. Narsipur taluk.
Not only is the cost of producing silk in China less, even the quality is superior, retired Deputy Director of Sericulture Department N.Y. Chigari told The Hindu .
Soon after the Narendra Modi government came to power, the import duty was brought down to 5 per cent, but it was increased to 15 per cent subsequently, only to be brought down to 10 per cent.
While Chinese raw silk, having a longer unbroken filament than Indian silk, is available at Rs. 3,000 a kg, indigenously produced silk varies from Rs. 2,100 to Rs. 2,400 a kg, Mr. Chigari further added.
“At current prices, the decrease in import duty from 30 per cent to 10 per cent has made Chinese silk cheaper by Rs. 600,” he added.
However, a large number of weavers and power looms in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat are dependent on Chinese silk for manufacture of silk products including garments.
Meanwhile, Director of Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute (CSR&TI) V. Sivaprasad said there had been no difference in the quantum of import and export of silk from India over the last year.