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Bio-conservation of Tasar silkworm insect (Antheraea mylitta) and its food plants for prospects of workers involved in cocoon production and cultivation in Jharkhand, India

Shashi Naga*, Manju Kumaria and Ashok Kumar Nagb
aUniversity Department of Home Science, Ranchi University, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India
bDepartment of Botany, Dr. S.P. M. University, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India
Received : 3rd January,2018 ; Revised: 17th February, 2018

Abstract : Production of cocoon by the Tasar silkworm insect (Antheraea mylitta) on the food plants of forest namely Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Asan (Terminalia tomentosa) and Sal or Sakhua (Shorea robusta) etc. in the Jharkhand state, mainly in the Kolhan and South Chotanagpur Divisions, is a source of additional income and livelihood for the tribals and other local people. Mainly due to the ever increasing human population and its developmental activities, the areas of forests are depleting. The indiscriminate felling of trees, include Tasar food plants; and consequently its silkworm population also is gradually diminishing. This is adversely affecting not only the livelihood prospects of the collectors and producers of cocoon; it also leads to the loss of eco-races of both: the food plants and the insects. In turn, it is adversely affecting the livelihood of other people associated with this industry, i.e. spinners of the yarn, weavers of textile and the artisans, the apparel designers and producers. There is an increasing international demand of Organic Tasar produced mainly in the Seraikela-Kharsanwa area of south Jharkhand State, named Kuchai tasar. To achieve increasing targets of its yarn, textile, apparel etc., there is an urgent need to involve and educate the local population as well as the governmental personnel to conserve both the food plants and the Tasar silkworm. Steps to increase their population, both in the natural forests as well as in and around the villages, to obtain more and more of the Organic Tasar cocoon have to be taken. The Bio-conservation of the food plants as well as the non-food plants (for the survival of forest wildlife) and the Tasar silkworm is the need for sustainable livelihood of the cocoon growers and collectors to the producers of garments from this wonderful silk yarn. The preliminary findings from a survey of the area and the people associated with the collection and production of cocoon, the weavers and the artisan indicate the great need of Bio-conservation management plan for the prosperity of this important industry.

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