Silk textile industry

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Silk textile industry


Silk is a fibre obtained from the cocoons of silkworms, which feed on mulberry leaves. The breeding of silkworms is known as sericulture. This is widely practiced in China and Japan. Each cocoons may contain up to 2000 meters of filament. The cocoons are boiled to kill the worms and the filaments are separated by hand carefully and reeled. Sericulture is confined to tropical and sub-tropical regions only as the silkworm needs a temperature of over 16°C. A large number of female laborers are needed for rearing the silkworms and reeling of filaments from cocoons.

Total raw silk production is quite small compared to cotton or wool. Silk is an expensive fibre as the cost of production is high. Japan and China each produce about one-third of world total production. South Korea, Russia, India and North Korea are other important producers of silk. China exports raw silk and silk fabrics. The United States is the largest importer of raw silk. New England states have silk manufacturing centres. Silk industries are located in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Britain. Sericulture is well developed in Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal states in India. Most of the raw silk is consumed by handloom weavers. India exports silk fabrics. The demand for silk is reduced by competition from cheap synthetic textiles like rayon.

Synthetic fibres are produced from natural cellulose and petrochemicals. Fibres produced from wood or bamboo are called rayon, which is lightweight glossy material also known as artificial silk. Fibres of petrochemical original are called nylon, terylene and acrylic fibres. Such synthetic fibres are crease, shrink and water resistant and more durable. They are cheap and compete with wool and silk. Nylon has replaced cotton for industrial use like tyre cord making. The synthetic fibres are blended with natural ones.

Manufacture of synthetic fibres and textiles is concentrated in Russia, the United States, Japan and Germany, Textile mills in European countries produce synthetic textiles. Highly developed petrochemicals industry in the developed countries provides raw materials for manufacture of synthetic fabrics. India has mills producing rayon, terylene and other synthetic fibres and textiles.

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