There are two big cocoon markets in Tamil Nadu (South India) where farmers gather in the early morning and sell the harvest. One of these markets is in Coimbatore. Farmers from 100 km away are coming here. 1.5 tons are sold daily at the market. With our manager group participating in our Making More Health week we came early to see what’s happening:
Many farmers had already brought a huge amount of cocoons to the market.
“It takes 27 days to get the cocoons,” a farmer explained. “We get the eggs from here , then it takes 7 days to get worms. We feed them and after. Ten days the cocoons start to develop. We have to make sure that the cocoons do not break before we deliver. So we have to calculate well”.
The farmers cultivate mulberries on their land to feed the worms. “We feed them twice a day, in the morning and evening. We need a good climate, no extremes. The size and quality of the cocoons dictates the price,” they explain.
The quality is tested at the market itself in a very transparent way. 100gr of cocoons are weight, then counted, some samples are cut and counted again. The cocoon should not have brown or black spots. Based on this quality check the price that will be plaid is announced to the farmers.
Our of one egg up to 400 worms will be born. “I buy 100 eggs each time,” a farmer explains. It needs 150 eggs to fill three of the huge boxes we find in the market. There is a minimum and maximum price guaranteed by the government, depending on the quality. It’s between 2500 and 3950 Rupees per kilo.
“It’s a good business,” adds the farmer. “The demand for silk in India is growing and the government offers trainings to us. This business offers us a monthly income and it does not take to much time to grow them.”