Who are we

Armenia national sericulture development plan

 

By
 
Dr Anzhela AZIZYAN, BACSA National coordinator in Armenia; e mail: azizyan@freenet.am
 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS page
1. BACKGROUND 3
2. RESEARCH IN TO THE POTENTIAL FOR SERICULTURE IN VARIOUS REGIONS OF ARMENIA 4
3. Existing prerequisites for the reestablishment of silk production in Armenia 5
4. The National Program of Sericulture Development in the Armenian Republic 5
4.1. A choice of the most suitable areas for accommodation and developments of sericulture. 6
4.2. Prognosis of new mulberry plantations, silkworm rearing, fresh, dry cocoon and row silk production. 7
ANNEX 1. Tables 8
1. BACKGROUND

 

The silk branch of Armenia has deep historical routes. According to knowledgeable historians, silk extraction spread into Trans-Caucasian, particularly Armenia , in the 5th-6th centuries A.D., mainly from Central Asia . In ancient times, whole royal clans immigrated into Armenia from central China bringing with them workers and soldiers. This communication left deep impressions on the skill, experience and culture of silk production in Armenia . In this way, silk processing and embossing of silk has existed in Armenia for more than 1400-1500 years. In this period, when trade acquired a more important role and when its widening started to increase the role of money, silk played the role of a common equivalent, the role of currency. Taxes were paid in silk. Arab historians of that time have given a number of indicators of the wide proliferation of silk processing, silk embossing and about the trade in ancient and medieval Armenia .

Certain periods of the history of Armenians saw the decline of silk extraction and processing, and then, its rebirth; it occupied an important position in the Armenian economy. The Armenian silk fabrics , obtained by homemade handlooms, was famous for its excellent quality. Hand silk reeling was practiced by Armenians even in ancient times, and from local, high quality silk thread - raw silk - skilful, expensive silk cloth was produced. Along with handlooms, primitive processing of raw silk, silk-reeling and silk spinning, silk textile as well as silk dyeing also developed.

The quality of Armenian silk was praised by historians because Armenian cocoons were of high quality and hand reeling produced the finest high quality thread. Armenian silk also stood out because of its colors. Back then, in the cities of Dvin and Artashat in Armenia , a special expensive dye, cochineal ( Porphyrophora hamelii) /Homoptera, Coccidae/ , was produced and named "kirmiz". It was used to dye wool and silk and these textiles were exported to Europe under the name "kirmiz".

Cocoon-reeling started to be mechanized and automated, increasing its producing power. Low quality cocoons and waste were re-processed and the raw silk obtained was used for the production of cloth meant for wide consumption. The technology of the silk industry allowed for considerable widening of the assortment of goods and the increased production of crape cloth from natural silk, printed silk, cloth with nap (plush, velvet, staple items and so on).There was a collection of examples of cloth (more than 600) items, which was released by t he enterprises of the Armenian silk industry in hundreds of colors and with motifs of the national Armenian ornaments. The silk-producing industries of Armenia did not always rely on the processing of local raw material, produced in the country. Raw material used to be brought in from other countries.

The production of the silkworm cocoon s began to fall in Armenia in 1970. Since then, only research institutions have continued the genetic selection work on silkworms.

In 1990 after the falling of the Soviet Union, the Armenian government began to restore the s ericulture in Armenia . They established an 800 hectare mulberry plantation so cocoon production could begin. The Faculty of Sericulture then opened in the Armenia Agriculture University .

However, after privatization of the lands and the formation of the farming facilities the Sericulture practices turned out to fully depend on the farmers desires, which was a problem because of the unassisted programs of the Government. Armenia 's low economic level has not allowed them to possibly help the farmers with reconstruction and revival of s ericulture.

The dryness of the climate, absence of frost in the spring and of sharp fluctuations in temperature during the feeding period are factors suitable to the growth of worms, which, in Armenia occurs at a faster pace, than in other sericultural regions. Such climate creates condition for reduction of the diseases of the silkworm and mulberry. In this connection is expedient to restore the production of cocoons in Armenia

Since 1995-2005, cocoon production was organized in some farming facilities in small amounts, but this did not prosper. Their production of these cocoons cannot be produced in large amounts without the help of the Sericulture organization. Because of this, YANS-SHERAM (Silkworm) LTD., ECO-SILK, and Environment and Health Protection Non-Governmental Organizations, have begun to promote rehabilitation and revival of s ericulture in Armenia . Before these organizations were created, the study of the potential of s ericulture was done by Armenia (Fund Eurasia). Institute of Zoology of Armenian NAS should take part.

2. RESEARCH IN TO THE POTENTIAL FOR SERICULTURE IN VARIOUS REGIONS OF ARMENIA mainly due to the next:

  • taking stock of preserved plantations of mulberry, studying the sort variety.
  • selecting suitable territory for the creation of mulberry plantation.
  • collecting information about the willingness and resources of the population to practice silk production..

The following methods were used for research into each region:

  • meeting the regional leader , familiarizing him /her with the task at hand and the current program, the role of the Eurasia fund in it and so on.
  • meeting the head of the agricultural division, presenting him with the concrete program.
  • discussing the task at hand and the program in the agricultural division in the presence of specialists, representatives of agricultural councils and others.
  • studying the region along with the head agronomist and other specialists in agriculture with the aim of collecting information regarding sericulture (past, present and future).
  • Frequent discussions were held with the representatives of local agricultural councils, farmers and people living in the villages and towns about their resources and willingness to participate in silk production.
  • Stock taking and examination of the mulberry plantation was conducted and its sort variety was studied.
  • Research was carried out, aiming at the possible reestablishment of manufacture or manual production of raw silk and items, as it used to be earlier.

The research has shown, that mulberry trees, and in some places, plantations, have been preserved mainly around houses, farmsteads, fields, on the edges of roads, in gardens and parks. In urban settlements, the mulberry has been kept as a decorative or fruit-bearing tree.

On examination of the sort variety it was discovered that many local sorts of mulberry had been preserved as had sorts obtained in many other parts and brought in from other countries ( Russia , Georgia ) which have been cultivated in local conditions for a long time. Polyploid forms of mulberry (with large leaves), created specially for application in sericulture were also seen. All varieties of mulberry which used to be cultivated in Armenia for sericulture are mainly preserved in the state of Syunik - Goris, Meghri, Kapan, Sissian and partly in other regions (Etchmiadzin, Ashtarak and so on). These trees can serve as the foundation for a collective mulberry gene pool in Armenia and to start new plantations.

Discussion with local populations showed that silk production is not a completely forgotten field yet. They reminisced about the silkworm with great warmth and almost all of them would like this field to be reestablished in Armenia . On asking local residents about the facilities and their desire to practice silk production, it was made clear that in regions suitable for sericulture, 80- 1 00 % of the residents were willing to practice cocoon production, if the realization of raw material (silkworm cocoons) on agreement with corresponding organizations is organized.

On discussion with residents of agricultural localities it was observed that although they are familiar with this field, this is not enough for the modern level of silk production. In order for the population to professionally get down to practicing sericulture, it is necessary to carry out educational and demonstrative programs with them on worm feeding and organization of worm cocooning, manual unwinding of cocoons and preparation of various silk items. Their education must be carried out using the newest methodology, familiarizing them with the new technology used in the international practice of sericulture.

As a result of the research, regions, areas, villages and territories were marked where it is currently possible to practice sericulture, to start and expand silkworm cocoon production. In each region there are certain unused territories which peasants can use for the plantation of mulberry and after two years allow it to be used to obtain silkworm cocoons. In some regions forest expanses can be used for mulberry plantation. These regions are in the north as well as the south and belong to the first four climatic types.

3. Existing prerequisites for the reestablishment of silk production in Armenia :

1. The desire and facilities of the population of villages to practice sericulture.
2. The geographical zones of Armenia (from six climatic types) the four climatic types are suitable for mulberry plantation. The dryness of the climate, absence of frost in the spring and of sharp fluctuations in temperature during the feeding period are factors suitable to the growth of worms, which, in Armenia occurs at a faster pace, than in other sericultural regions. Such climate creates condition for reduction of the diseases of the silkworm and mulberry. In this connection is expedient to restore the production of cocoons in Armenia .
3. Armenian silk also stood out because of its colors.
4. A large amount of Government and privatized territory and forest expanses (10 - 20%), are not currently in use, which are potential sources for the creation of mulberry plantations and for the practice of sericulture.
5. The silk sector development contributes the poverty alleviation: sericulture is a source of income for many families in rural area, essentially women who have limited income opportunities. The development of this sector procures alternative incomes and is contributing towards the limitation of rural migration. The handcrafts way provides a wide sharing out of the added value to many families of rearers and weavers.
6. A special company exists, Yans Sheram joint-venture, which can be as the Center of Sericulture (with skilled specialists ) and provide: high-yield eggs of mulberry silkworm to various regions of Armenia ; saplings of sorts a mulberry, recommended for silk production, in a specific variety ratio ; technology for accelerated cultivation of trees and creation of plantations.
7. ECO-SILK, and Environment and Health Protection Non-Governmental Organizations can provide: Training Courses for farmers in various regions of Armenia, mass media, distribute of mulberry saplings for planting in private farmers land and government forest land ( if the Government and International organizations will support ).

4. The National Program of Sericulture Development in the Armenian Republic

Proceeding from above-stated, under the initiative and direct support of a management of Yans-Sheram LTD experts develop the national program of sericulture development in Armenian Republic for the period 2007 -2015 .

It needs strengthening and expansion of the forage reserve (mulberry plantations), restoration of silkworm egg production system, renewal and adjustment breeding and industrial silkworm rearings in areas of republic, the organization of acceptance and primary processing of fresh cocoons. This organizations in order to facilitate, expedite and to promote development of traditional silk handcraft production, as value added products and additional way to utilize the locally produced cocoons/raw silk and provide income resources to a huge number of poor people.

The basic purpose of the program consists, by the interconnected development of all sericulture parts - a forage reserve (mulberry plantations), a breeding affair (silkworm egg manufacture), cultivation, preparation and primary processing of fresh cocoons, manufacture of raw silk from dry cocoons - in achievement below-mentioned:

  • Increase in the export potential of the country by manufacture and deliveries to the world markets of competitive raw silk;
  • Strengthening of inflow of foreign currency in the national economy;
  • Creation of the new processing enterprises in agrarian sector and the industry;
  • Promotion to acceleration of social and economic development in sericultural regions;
  • Maintenance of the population of the country with new workplaces (including 100-200 thousand seasonal and up to thousand constant workplaces);
  • For achievement of the above-stated purposes it is necessary to solve below-mentioned problems:
  • To strengthen the forage reserve of sericulture by improvement existing and planting of new mulberry plantations on the basis of agrotechnical actions;
  • To increase volume of production of qualitative industrial cocoons on the basis of progressive improvement of the silkworm rearing technology;
  • To organize preparation and qualitative primary processing of fresh cocoons at a high level;
  • To complete silk reeling manufacture by the modern process equipment
  • To increase volume of manufacture and export of competitive raw silk on the basis of modern technologies.

At the same time, as a result of sericulture development, the raw silk obtained from processing of strategically important raw material - cocoons of the silkworm, can be realized in the world markets due to what inflow of foreign currency to the national economy will amplify.

4.1. A choice of the most suitable areas for accommodation and developments of sericulture.

On the basis of the analysis of the information on the above-stated criteria of the areas extracted by experts of Yans Sheram LTD, for sericulture accommodation and developments at the given stage are chosen 7 below-mentioned areas of Republic of Armenia :

1. Goris
2. Kapan
3. Sisian
4. Meghry
5. Armavir
6. Aragoctn
7. Shamshadin

4.2. Prognosis of new mulberry plantations, silkworm rearing, fresh, dry cocoon and row silk production.

According to the prepared program (2007-2016), the annual volume of fresh cocoon production in Armenia is planned to reach up to 1000 tons (Table 4). For the purpose there will be a need of not less than 19250 boxes of silkworm eggs. (one box =29 g) (Table 5) and to produce more than 23 thousand tons of mulberry leaves (Table 3) for what it is necessary to have 1650 hectares of maintained mulberry plantations (Table 1). From 2008 to 2015 will be needed produce the 11.99 million pieces mulberry saplings (Table 3).

In Armenia is possible the use of the Tailand experience, based on cooperative farmers groups under the initiative and direct support of a management of Yans-Sheram LTD experts if supported from the Government and any International Organizations for the development of sericulture in Armenia . The number of farmers households participating in one group is from 50 to 200. (1000-2000 farmers). The main activities of the farmers groups are: to planting mulberry saplings, make young silkworm centralized rearing, establish village reeling enterprise, collective silk yarn and fabrics marketing. The group members sell a part of the cocoons produced to reeling fabrics, other part they reel by themselves to produce hund-made silk fabrics. The main techniques for silk handcrafts production are horizontal handloom weaving, tie and due, ikat, batik, embroidery, making carpets and rugs on vertical looms hand-tying knots, knitting, silk painting. At present in Armenia there is a production of silk carpets, who will buy the handcrafts producing from Armenian farmers .

In Armenia it is possible the utilization of mulberry fruits in food industry, respectively in the sweet products industry (as delicious and nutritional fruit, rich in sugar substances). The fruits of the mulberry tree are widely used, fresh or dried for food, alcohol extraction (Vodka ,,Qaraynq,, famous in Armenia and in other countries), berry juice, in jams, juice (doshab) and vinegar. For this aim it is possible planting the malberry trees in varius regions of Armenia for use the fruit of mulberry, which provide income resources to a huge poor number of people (Table 6)

ANNEX 1. Tables

 

Table 1. Prognosis of increase the area under mulberry plantations, in the regions of Armenia (ha), 2007-2015
Regions
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
Goris
50
60
80
100
160
220
280
340
400
Kapan
20
30
50
70
91
107
123
134
150
Sisian
50
60
80
100
160
220
280
340
400
Meghri
5
15
35
55
74
104
123
131
150
Armavir
3
13
33
53
82
111
140
170
200
Aragoctn
5
15
35
55
84
113
142
171
200
Shamshadin
17
27
47
67
83
99
115
132
150
TOTAL
150
220
360
500
734
974
1203
1418
1650
Table 2. Prognosis of newly plantation dynamics in the regions of Armenia (ha), 2007-2015
Regions
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
Goris
 
10
20
20
60
60
60
60
60
Kapan
 
10
20
20
16
16
16
16
16
Sisian
 
10
20
20
60
60
60
60
60
Meghri
 
10
20
20
19
19
19
19
19
Armavir
 
10
20
20
29
29
29
30
30
Aragoctn
 
10
20
20
29
29
29
29
29
Shamshadin
 
10
20
20
16
16
16
17
18
TOTAL
 
70
140
140
229
229
229
231
232
Table 3. Prognosis about mulberry saplings production and mulberry leaf yield in Armenia (2007-2015)
Years
Mulberry saplings, million pieces.
Newly planted, ha *
Plantations under exploitation, ha
Leaf yield, t
2007
       
2008
0,56
70
150
825
2009
1,12
140
220
3080
2010
1,12
140
360
5040
2011
1,83
229
500
7000
2012
1,83
229
734
10276
2013
1,83
229
974
13636
2014
1,85
231
1203
16842
2015
1,85
232
1418
19852
2016
   
1650
23100
TOTAL
11,99
1500
   
* planted 0.5 m x 2.5 m
Table 4. Distribution and dinamics of fresh cocoon production in Armenia , t (200 9 -2016)
Regions  
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
Goris
   
33
44
55
88
121
154
187
220
Kapan
   
16,5
27,5
38,5
47,3
56,1
64,9
73,7
82,5
Sisian
   
33
44
55
88
121
154
187
220
Meghri
   
8,2
19,2
30,2
40,7
51,1
61,6
72
82,5
Armavir
   
7,1
18,1
29,1
45,1
61,1
77
93,5
110
Aragoctn
   
8,2
19,2
30,2
46,2
62,1
78,1
94,1
110
Shamshadin
   
14,8
25,8
36,8
45,6
54,4
63,2
72,6
82,5
TOTAL 
   
120,8
197,8
274,8
400,9
526,8
652,8
779,9
907,5
Table 5. Prognosis about the number of silkworm egg boxes needed, fresh cocoon yield and r a w silk production in Armenia (2007-2016)
Years
Number of silkworm egg boxes needed
Total fresh cocoons production, t
Total dry cocoons production, t
Raw silk production, t
2007
       
2008
       
2009
2414
120,8
44,6
16,9
2010
3956
197,8
73,1
27,6
2011
5496
274,8
101,6
38,4
2012
8018
400,9
148,3
56,1
2013
10536
526,8
194,9
73,7
2014
13056
652,8
241,5
91,3
2015
15598
779,9
288,5
109,1
2016
19250
907,5
335,7
127
 

 


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