After wooing customers in the US, Europe and West Asia, Assam’s famous Muga silk is fast gaining popularity in Japan which may eventually emerge as the biggest market for the thread.

Designers in Japan are increasingly using Muga silk in stitching kimonos and other traditional dresses, Mr S.K. Menon, CMD of the Silk Mark Organisation of India, said.

“Muga has already made its presence felt in the US and several European countries, besides South Africa and the Middle-East, and now it has achieved tremendous success in Japan,” Mr Menon said.

Demand for Muga, which has got GI Registration in 2007, is high in the international market since Assam is the sole producer of this rarest of rare fine silks.

“Muga is an exclusive preserve of Assam and there is a big demand for it in the international market since they are not able to produce quality Muga silk,” Mr Menon said.

He identified Eri silk as another fine thread that can capture international market, provided it is advertised properly.

“I feel Eri has a big prospect in future since it is still a virgin silk. It has not been explored outside India, but Eri farmers are gaining huge profit now,” he said.

Mr Menon said there was a need for better-designed Eri garments as most designs are now confined to ‘chadars’ and jackets.

While pointing out that the market for silk within India is huge, he rued the fact that production has not been able to meet the demand due to infrastructure bottlenecks.

“India is the biggest consumer of silk. For every occasion we need silk. Though the country has the potential, lack of infrastructure has always taken the country into the backseat,” he said.

He pointed out that despite the fact that India is the second largest producer of silk, with Assam producing 90 per cent of it, there is a shortfall of 10,000 tonnes of silk and the country spends valuable foreign exchange in importing silk, mostly from China.

“We are importing over 8,000 tonnes of silk from China because we are not able to meet the domestic demand. Although India produces about 22,000 tonnes of silk, still there is a shortfall of 10,000 tonnes,” the CMD said.

Besides China, India imports a minuscule amount of raw silk from Uzbekistan, Brazil, Hong Kong, Vietnam and a few other countries.

Silk exports registered Rs 2,600 crore in 2009-10, and the Silk Board was predicting a good year for the industry.

(This article was published on June 2, 2011)
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