Kayin minister dreams of silk and mulberry plantations
THE chief minister of Kayin State is hoping to cover the temperate land with mulberry plantations and transform the once-isolated state into a centre for silk and hand-woven industries.
Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint has encouraged agricultural officials and farmers to plant mulberry trees, whose leaves are the sole source of food for silkworms.
She told farmers and businesspeople that the state has the right climate for mulberry trees, during a meeting at Kamawkapo pure seed farm in Hpa-an on July 28. Mulberry cultivation has previously been attempted in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina.
“The chief minister wants to promote mulberry plantations and silk production in Kayin State, as the weather here is suitable,” said U Win Hlaing Oo, head of Kayin State’s agriculture department.
The primary crops in Kayin State now are paddy and rubber. Low global rubber prices and falling Chinese demand has hit producers hard and plantation owners across Myanmar have been shuttering their businesses.
Three acres of mulberry have been grown at the Kamawkapo farm as a test. Daw Yi Yi Hlaing, deputy director for cotton plant and fibre crops under the department of agriculture, said that the landlocked southern state receives high levels of rainfall, but is not a cold region, which means that mulberry will grow well.
“Silkworm can be successfully raised during the dry season, and mulberries can be grown in land that is not waterlogged,” she said in a report. “If the plantation is on a hillside, the trees can be grown if an embankment is built to minimise soil erosion.”
The cost of planting and growing mulberry trees will be more than K700,000 an acre, but the plantations will make more than K400,000 an acre annually, the report said. U Win Hlaing Oo said the silk would be used in Kayin State’s hand-weaving industry. For now, it is bought from Pyin Oo Lwin in Mandalay Region.
A group of businesspeople involved in silk production in Japan have already visited Kayin State, he said, to meet with the department of agriculture and discuss the potential for business.
Former chief minister U Zaw Min told The Myanmar Times last year that Kayin State was ready to move ahead after decades of instability and isolation, with hopes resting on development of infrastructure leading to closer integration with Thailand and the Mekong sub-region.
– Translation by Thiri Min Htun
Silkworm cocoon boils at a silk fibre home industry in Bogor, Indonesia.