Aiming to revitalize the sericulture industry in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the region has started a silk production project with the Apayao State College (ASC) in Apayao province.
Victor Mariano, DOST-CAR Regional Director, said the establishment of silkworm rearing houses with a mulberry field was initially realized in Apayao through ASC‘s forestry and agriculture college departments.
The other collaborators of the project are the local government of Kabugao, the provincial government of Apayao and the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA).
An initial one hectare of land in Barangay (Village) Elias K. Bulut was provided by the local government of Kabugao, and at least 24,000 mulberry cuttings from PhilFIDA. The project is seen to provide research opportunities for the state college and livelihood opportunities for the village’s people.
“Ultimately, the project will expand to at least 10 hectares land area in order to sustain the mulberry leaves requirement of silkworms for cocoon production within four years,” Mariano said.
He said DOST-CAR will continue to provide technical support to the farmers of Cordillera with the technology on silk worm production currently in place.
“Cordillerans have the natural talent in weaving. One weaver that we give a job is one less the people yearning for job,” Mariano said.
He also said that even if the silk industry may appear to be a minor component in the country’s textile sector, silk is considered a luxury textile that has a high-end market.
It is believed that the first bolts of silk cloth were produced in China as early as the Neolithic period or 4,000 years ago.
However, Japan was the first country to go into sericulture in 1865 and is the world’s largest silk producer. Also, it has modernized its sericulture operations and intends to be the world’s top producer of silk.
Today, several countries are producing silk on a commercial scale, mostly in Asia that is also the traditional source of the world.
Mariano said that in the late 1960s, silk production was introduced in the Philippines by the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers through the Mountain Province Development Authority (MPDA) in La Trinidad, Benguet province.
The MPDA was abolished and the sericulture project was handed over to the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) of the National Science Development Board (now DOST).
In 1973, sericulture research was also undertaken by several organizations including the PTRI that was conceived by former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
DOST-CAR officials said it maintains 18 silkworm mainlines in partnership with Benguet State University (BSU) as sources of quality hybrid silkworm eggs.
Mariano said the silkworm eggs they will produce will be distributed to the other project recipients that include Kalinga State University, Mountain Province State Polytechnic College and BSU.
According to Nieves Dacyon, chairman of CAR Association of State Colleges and Universities, aside from providing erosion control, the sericulture project can contribute to poverty reduction and the National Greening Program.