Sericulture & silk industry may have to rely on foreign markets
VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam’s sericulture and silk industry has seen a revival in recent years, but experts are concerned about the lack of materials.


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Vietnam's sericulture and silk industry has seen a revival in recent years



Bao Loc was once the center of Vietnam’s and SE Asia’s sericulture. Two decades ago, visitors to the locality could see vast mulberry fields spreading out to the roads. 

Kosho Matsunaga from Matsumura Company said natural conditions in Bao Loc are ideal for sericulture as farmers can have 10 crops a year. But many mulberry gardens have disappeared and there are now only several small mulberry areas among other fields of crops.

According to Nguyen Tien Dung, a well-known businessman in Bao Loc, in the 1990s, Vietnam had 38,000 hectares of mulberry growing area, including 17,850 hectares in Lam Dong province. 

However, in the early 2000s, as the silk price dropped dramatically in the world market, the total mulberry growing area fell by 50 percent. Vietnam’s sericulture and silk industry entered a crisis period.

Nearly 10 state-owned enterprises had to stop operation and were dissolved, while many private enterprises had to scale down their production or shift to other businesses. Tens of thousands of workers had to return to their home villages.

Nearly 10 state-owned enterprises had to stop operation and were dissolved, while many private enterprises had to scale down their production or shift to other businesses. Tens of thousands of workers had to return to their home villages.

In 2006, as the silkworm cocoon price bounced back, people tried to return to sericulture. However, only 240 hectares of mulberry growing area were recovered in the last 10 years. 

Bao Loc now has about 340 hectares of growing area, or 1/9 of the area in the golden days.

In some localities, mulberry plants have been replaced by tea and coffee plants.

“Tea and coffee growers usually spray pesticide and use fertilizer, which affects our mulberry fields,” said Nguyen Van Nam, a farmer in Dam Ri commune. “Silkworms will die en masse if they eat the mulberry infected with pesticides.”

Nam, who has spent half his life on sericulture, has not poured all his money into mulberry fields, but instead is growing many different crops to disperse risks.

Chair of the Vietnam Sericulture Association Dang Vinh Tho said there are 40 automatic silk-reeling systems, but only 5,000 hectares of mulberry in Lam Dong province. 

As the output is modest, enterprises scramble for silkworm cocoons, pushing the material prices up to VND180,000 per kilo.

Pham Phu Binh, director of Phu Cuong Company, said Chinese businessmen have set up factories under Vietnamese names and scrambled for materials in the market. 

According to her one report, silk processing capacity increased by three times, which can satisfy only 50 percent of factories’ capacity.

“If we don’t have a reasonable development plan, we won’t have materials for silk production in 10-15 years,” Tho said.
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