Supply Chain Linkages in Muga and Eri Silk Sector of Assam: Every silk industry has a value added chain from silk worm eggs to fabrics or finished garments. In this chain, every activity has its own importance and a specialized knowledge is required to perform each and every activity. Different activities in the supply chain are widely spread all over the state. The activities performed in the areas formed clusters such as clusters of Cocoons production, Silk Reeling, Spinning, Dying and Weaving. All the activities are interdependent with each other.
But the linkage among all the players of the chain is established by some intermediaries or traders. First of all we are going to discuss about the Silk Worm Seed Sector: Silk Worm Silk Sector: As stated above, the production of silk worm seed needs specialized knowledge since it is a complicated activity. The Central Silk Board has set up the Muga Silk Worm Seed Organization (MSSO) in 1983 in order to produce DFLs. Since then the organization has been trying to multiply Muga seed. From the basic seed the multiplication process starts and finally commercial seeds are produced.
But from the field study it has been found that the rearers themselves produce a large quantity of seeds for their use. Though Government’s efforts to produce P2 DFL have become successful to some extent, the amount of seeds produced by Government institutes is not at all sufficient to meet the demand of the rearers. So the State Government (Assam Government) has been supporting the private graineurs to produce Muga seed since 2001. But this effort of the Government has not been able to show expected results. The rearers purchase seeds from the Government as well as private seed suppliers on credit.
However, if the purchase is made from the grainages operated by the CSB, cash transaction has to be done. It is also observed that a good number of middlemen supply seed to the rearers for contract rearing. In this case also seed is supplied on credit. The dues with the rearers are settled after the production of cocoons is completed. In the next page a diagram relating to supply chain linkage of Muga seed production is given. Supply chain linkage of Muga seed production Figure-1 The distribution of Muga Seeds from the Government level is done as follows: Category% OF Selection of SeedControlling Unit
P4 Seed100% seed selection is doneExclusively under CSB P3 Seed95% Seed selection is doneExclusively under CSB P2 Seed90% Seed Selection is doneDOS/ CSB P1 Seed85% Seed Selection is doneDOS Commercial75% Seed Selection is doneAny party The multiplication of Muga Seed is done in the following way: Figure-2 From the above diagram it can be mentioned that one P2 level Seed Graineur supply seeds to 4 Seed rearers of P1 level and 1 P1 level seed rearer can supply seeds to 16 Commercial rearers with the process of multiplication of seeds. The chain of Muga seed supply for different broods in a year is shown below: Figure-3 Cocoon Sector:
Generally the Muga rearers involve in producing Jethua and Kotia cocoons in large scale for commercial purpose. But for seed, cocoons are produced throughout the year either by the private rearers or Government initiatives. The supply chain of Muga Cocoon production and marketing is shown in the next page: Supply Chain Linkages of Muga Cocoon Production and Marketing: Figure-4 It is noteworthy that the entire amount of production of cocoon is sold since its demand is always higher than supply. Cocoon trading is mainly done in Kamrup district of Assam since the biggest Muga weaving cluster –Sualkuchi is situated in the district.
The cocoon traders engage agents in order to collect cocoons from rearers scattered in different parts of the state. It is observed that the agents or sub-agents engaged by cocoon traders visit door to door of the rearers and collect cocoon though a small amount of cocoon is sold in weekly Haats. So far as the production of Eri cocoon is concerned, commercial approach in producing them is yet to be adopted. Except in some areas of Udalguri district where the production is partially commercialized. The Supply Chain Linkage of Eri Cocoon is given below: Supply Chain Linkage of Eri Cocoon Figure-5
Yarn Sector: Yarn production is one of the most important intermediary activities of the supply chain linkage of silk sector. This particular activity is generally concentrated in and around the Cocoon production cluster and weaving clusters. But in case of Muga silk the cocoon production areas are not situated in the Muga weaving cluster. Cocoon production clusters are spread all over the state and Muga cocoons are brought to the Muga Weaving cluster. As mentioned earlier, Sualkuchi is the biggest Muga weaving cluster in the world. 6Cocoons are bought by the Reelers and the Reelers sell Yarn to the Weavers and loom Owners.
Sometimes reeling activity is also done by the weavers. Generally, the reeling activity is regarded as an independent activity. But it is observed in the Sualkuchi Muga Weaving cluster that a good number of reelers are engaged either by traders or by the master weavers. Individual yarn producers acquire their raw materials on their own. But those who are engaged by different parties such as master reelers, weavers and traders do not acquire the raw materials i. e. cocoons themselves. Affluent reelers of different areas, other than Sualkuchi, collect yarn from other small reelers and sale their yarn at Sualkuchi.
Following figure shows the layout of yarn production activity in the Muga and Eri silk industry of Assam. All the possible linkages with each activity of the supply chain are mentioned in the figure: Figure-6 Source of Raw Materials Yarn Marketing Supply Chain linkage for yarn Production and Marketing Weaving Sector: Weaving is one of the most specialized activities in the supply chain linkages of the silk sector. On the other hand this is one of the most organized sectors unlike other activities of the chain. The weavers or the fabric producers are generally grouped into two levels i. e. omestic weavers and commercial weavers. Domestic weavers are those weavers who do the weaving job for their own consumption as well as for commercial weavers. The commercial weaving activity is controlled by the Master weavers who are having sufficient number of looms. In Kamrup district of Assam Sualkuchi-Bamundi (for Muga silk), Bijaynaga, Palashbari, Hajo, Rampur (for Eri weaving) are the major weaving clusters where 90% weaving activity of the state is done. In Assam, the weaving activity has become more popular and received a new dimension since the demand of natural silk has gone up.
The new generation, particularly the weavers of Sualkuchi are very young and educated. These new generation weavers use modern devises of weaving and they are very much interested in making modern dresses out of Muga and Eri silk. The master weavers hire labourers for weaving job. From our study it has been found that there is dearth of skilled labourers, The wages of the labourers (hired weavers) are determined by the Master weavers based on their amount of production. It is observed that the designs are repetitive, monotonous and highly region specific with limited colour patterns.
The products are generally sold to the retail show rooms, Government Emporia’s, self-retail outlets, wholesalers and cooperative societies. The Supply Chain Linkages for Fabric Production and Marketing is mentioned in the following figure: Figure-7 Supply Chain Linkages for Silk fabric Production and Marketing Conclusion: The Supply chain linkage is the collection of interrelated, independent process that work together to turn inputs into outputs in the pursuit of some goals. Each activity must be done properly and sincerely in order to produce results. The quality of ultimate products i. e. abrics entirely depends on the performance of each activity in the chain. If any activity in the chain gets disturbed the entire chain will be weak since all the activities are interdependent. Due to the climate change and over use of pesticide in the tea gardens the Muga cocoon production sector of Assam has received a serious setback. Consequently, all the activities in the Muga silk sector have been suffering a lot. As Muga is the endemic to the North eastern region of India, The Central silk Board and the Government of Assam should formulate a special policy to retain or sustain this sector.
Assam produces 95% of the total production of Muga and the rest is produced by other North Eastern States of India. Nowhere in the world Muga is produced except North Eastern Region of India. So it is the demand of the time to do for the sustenance of the sector. (This research paper is the fruit of a Major Research Project entitled “Marketing of Natural Silk Products Produced in Assam : A study of the biggest Muga Weaving Cluster of the world-Sualkuchi” sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi) Dr.
Jatindra Nath Saikia is the Associate Professor, Department of Human Resource Management, Golaghat Commerce College, Golaghat-785 621, Assam. Email: [email protected] com) Note: since the information are Primary ones, there is no reference to be mentioned in the paper. ——————————————————–o——————————————————–