One of A T India’s flagship programs is Oak Tasar silk cultivation in Uttarakhand state, which clearly reflects organization’s synergistic approach of forest conservation through enterprise development. This program, was started way back in1995 as a strategy to conserve old stand oak forests in Uttarakhand, has been continuously providing sustainable livelihoods for local communities. While coming along way silk enterprise development program of AT India became the single largest producer of oak cocoons in in 2003-04 in the country with a record harvest over 40 lakh Oak Tasar cocoons.
The effort is to enhance silk production while at the same time maintain the sustainable harvests from oak forests.The approach followed is based on Value Chain in silk sector for which AT India has built the capacity of the stakeholders on wide range of issues in order to enable them to operate across the different value chain stages. The silk sector has become one of the most accepted livelihood options for the participating households.
The core strategy adopted was to promote the Value Chain and this included:
Raising bio-mass is a critical component in Silk sectors thus a special thrust has been on raising the planation of Quercusserrataspecies of Oak, which is being planted at the valley level. As of now AT India in collaboration with local community organization, Van Panchayats and other stakeholders has been able to take up Quercusserrataplantations on 860-hectare land for cultivation of Oak Tasarsilk. The Castor plantation coverage has been in 50-hectare land spread across the 86 numbers of villages in 4 mountain districts viz. Rudraprayag, Tehri, Chamoli and Uttarkashi.
Working through Collectives
Women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) play important role inraising nurseries and there after doing the plantations. SHGs are instrumental in mobilizing community participation at Gram Panchayats and Van Panchayatslevels for conducting plantations, developing strategy for protection of saplings. As part of strategy to raise the biomass, village-wise mobilization meetings and micro planning are done. As a result of mobilization of communities and community-based organization (CBOs) their involvement in plantation was quite encouraging and as result nearly 60% survival rate has been achieved during the year. The nursery raising and plantations Of Quercusserratahas covered 86 villages in 15 Blocks of 4 districts for which 137 nursery growers among the 87 SHGs were selected.The primary objective of raising nursery is to ensure enough foliage for cultivating cocoons of all 3 varieties i.e. Oak, Eri and Mulberry.
The major challenge in Oak Tasar sector is the availability of disease free larvae (Dfls) despite the fact that collective efforts made by CSB, ODS Uttarakhand and AT India. To some extent seed production was managed by conducting intensive monitoring. During the year 2016-17 involving 32 rearers resulted in production of 78,704 Oak Tasar cocoons.
This year 150 farmers in 4 mountain districts of Uttarakhandare engaged in Eri silk cocoon production. Essential infrastructure, trainings and capacity building support extended to the Eri silk cocoon producers in order to enhance their capacity to cultivate quality cocoons on commercial basis. In Dhountiyalcluster of district Pauriinitially the mulberry silk cocoon production was started with 350 DFLs with 42Kg production that now engages 200farmers with the production with 4500 DFLs every year. The collective annual mulberry cocoon production in Dhountiyal cluster recorded nearly 1768.50 Kg during 2016-17.