Primary challenges faced by silk farmers impacting their income.
Diseases in Silkworms
The diseases like Grasserie and Flacherie are a very common occurrence among silkworms. Considering the alarming rapidity with which they spread, they could destroy an entire harvest within a small span of time resulting in losses.
Precautions and solutions:
- Closely monitoring and controlling factors like temperature, humidity, light, and air quality will decrease the chances of the spread of the diseases.
- Feeding poor quality, contaminated leaves could increase the risk of occurrence of disease. Feeding appropriate clean quality and quantity of Mulberry keep the silkworms healthy.
- Untidy rearing sheds are a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria that could spread to the entire harvest. Disinfecting the rearing shed and cleaning before a new cycle begins is a very basic hygienic practice every silk farmer should follow. It will prevent the diseases of the previous cycle from passing on to the next batch of silkworms.
Stunted growth of Silkworms
Mulberry leaves are the only source of nutrition for silkworms, so the strength with which they weave cocoons depends on the quality of leaves they’re fed. Another important factor impacting the growth of silkworms is the environment, they grow well in a particular temperature, humidity, light, and air quality.
Lack of technical guidance
Farmer’s lack of technological knowledge in silk rearing exposes a huge drain in the information that results in lesser returns or loss which results in a farmer quitting sericulture. A straightforward solution for that is to provide timely advice to farmers in a way that they understand. Some farmers don’t know what Uzi traps are, the quantity of disinfectant they need to use, how to decontaminate a rearing shed, and stages in silk rearing, etc that directly affect the productivity of silk. So the training and guidance are of utmost importance.
ReshaMandi has been providing solutions to the above-mentioned challenges by training and providing information by going to their location and in a way that they understand.
To address problems beyond guidance. ReshaMandi has used Technology to enable farmers in improving their productivity. One of them is monitoring the environmental conditions and maintaining them at optimal readings.
Importance of optimal environmental conditions for silkworms
Temperature plays a vital role in the growth of silkworms. As silkworms are cold-blooded animals. The temperature will have a direct effect on various physiological activities. The early instar larvae are resistant to high temperatures which also helps in improving the survival rate. Farmers can increase the rate of growth of silkworms by maintaining the temperature at an ideal level.
|Instar||Temperature°C||Relative Humidity (%)|
Humidity plays a vital role in silkworm rearing; the combined effect of both temperature and humidity largely determines the satisfactory growth of the silkworms and the production of good-quality cocoons.
Light intensity and Air quality
Silkworms are fond of dim light between 15 to 30 lux and avoid strong light and darkness. Late-age worms survive better in 16-hour light and 8-hour dark periods. However, young-age worms prefer 16 hr darkness and 8 hr light periods. Larvae of silkworms do not prefer either strong light or complete darkness but usually, the light phase activates the larvae in contrast to the dark phase.
The air quality is normally indicated by the Air Quality Index (AQI) the values range from 0-50 is good, 50-100 is satisfactory and 100-200 is moderate to impact the healthy growth of silkworms and maintaining that can only be dependent on the location of rearing shed which is generally in farm thus the air quality is normally maintained.
How does the ReshaSaathi – Rearing Shed IoT device help in monitoring the environment?
ReshaMandi’s rearing shed IoT device has sensors that are set up with an ideal range of temperature, humidity, light, and air quality to grow silkworms. When any of the parameters are not in the ideal range, the device sends an alert to the farmers via the ReshaMandi app with a solution.
For example, the ideal temperature of the rearing shed is determined to be between 26°C – 28°C. If the temperature of the rearing shed goes below 26°C, farmers will be alerted via App, and a solution of burning the charcoal to improve temperature will be given to farmers. Similarly, if the temperature rises beyond 28°C the farmer will be notified and asked to turn on the fan to decrease the temperature. The same protocol is followed for Humidity, Light, and Air Quality.
What is the impact of the ReshaSaathi – Rearing Shed IoT device on Silk quality and quantity?
ReshaMandi has taken the sample size of 250 cocoons from 5 farmers, with and without ReshaSaathi IoT device to analyze the difference.
There are many ways to understand the quality of silk, and important parameters are explained below:
Cocoon weight (g)
Cocoon weight was recorded by weighing cocoons individually using a sensitive electronic balance.
After calculating the average weight, it was found that usage of our IoT device has helped farmers increase their cocoon weight by 12% which means for every 100Kg cocoons a farmer used to grow, now he/she can get 120+Kg with the same resources.
Shell weight (g) & ratio (%)
Shell weight was recorded by removing the floss layer and cutting open the cocoon to remove pupa and the last larval skin i.e., exuvium. As shown in the table above, you can see the shell weight has increased and the shell ratio has also increased from 21.15% to 23.47%.
Average Cocoon length and width (mm)
Average Cocoon length and width (mm) have also increased approximately 1mm each, and that affects the quality and weight of the cocoon lot.
Pupation is the process of larvae growing into a pupa and pupation % is the percentage of DFL’s reaching the pupa stage, as important as the process is, the 13% increase from 81% to 94% is crucial for a farmer to optimize productivity.
Filament Length (m)
Filament Length (m) is found out by reeling cocoons picked at random and measuring the length of a single filament.
We found out that the average length of the filament of a cocoon from a rearing shed where our IoT device is not installed is 993 meters whereas the average length of filament was 1144 meters from a cocoon reared in a rearing shed where the ReshaSaathi IoT device was used.
Tests and Results
Denier Test Results
This denotes the thickness of the filament; 9000 meters of the silk filament weighing 1g is considered 1 denier. It could be determined that the quality of a cocoon lot is good if the denier score is higher than 1. As shown in table 2, Denier score of a lot from the rearing shed without an IoT device is less (2.4) than Denier score from the lot where ReshaSaathi’s IoT device was used i.e, 2.8.
Renditta Test Results
This is a measure of actual silk reeled from the cocoons. The Renditta is expressed as the weight of cocoons required to get a kg of raw silk. The less the Renditta score, is the better the quality of cocoons are.
As you can see in table 2 shown above, with cocoons from sheds where the ReshaSaathi IoT device was used, with just 6.3Kg cocoons to produce 1Kg of silk, meaning renditta score is 6.3 which assures a very good price to farmers.
In the Indian silk circuit commonly accepted renditta score is 7, the cocoons from where rearing shed IoT device is not used is 8.1 which is below average.
From the results shown above, it can be concluded that ReshaMandi IoT improves the quantity of cocoon production and the quality of cocoons.
Profitability of IoT Device for Farmers
Let’s see the ReshaSaathi IoT device’s profitability and return on investment for Farmers.
As mentioned in table 1, you can see that farmers observe a 12% increase in the quantity of cocoons produced by using Reshasaathi rearing shed IoT devices.
Let’s consider the average price of Cocoons per Kg is Rs.350. If a farmer has a 1-acre rearing shed, the consensus is that 250 DFLs can be grown in that land.
From our research, we found out that 70-80Kg of Cocoons are produced from 100 DFL, so if we consider 75Kg per 100DFL:
|75KG Cocoons (100DFL) * 2.5/acre = 187.5KG Cocoons/Cycle/Acre|
And Let’s consider the average price of Cocoons per Kg is Rs.350. So, the net revenue generated per acre by farmers is:
|350 * 187.5 = Rs.65,635/acre.|
But with ReshaSaathi IoT, the weight of Cocoons increase by 12% so, the income increases by 12% if the rate of cocoons is considered at Rs.350/Kg.
I.e, instead of producing 187.5Kg cocoons/acre, the farmer is now able to produce 210Kg:
|Rs.350 * 210Kg = Rs.73,500/acre.|
So, a farmer makes approximately Rs.7875 more per acre with the help of our IoT device so as the size of the rearing shed increases, the more profit.
|Particulars||Maintenance expenditure/Month/acre (Rs)|
|250 DFL Chawki||7250|
So, considering the monthly expenditures, the gross profit earned per acre without the ReshaSaathi IoT device is:
|Rs.65,635 (Gross Revenue) – Rs.18,750 (expenditure) = Rs.46,885 (Gross profit)|
The gross profit earned per acre with the ReshaSaathi IoT device is:
|Rs.73500 (Gross Revenue) – Rs.187500 (expenditure) – Rs.5000 (Price of IoT device) = Rs.54,250 (gross profit)|
As you can see in the bar graph shown above: The y-axis indicates the total gross profit earned by farmers while the x-axis represents the total acres of land, it is natural that the gross profit earned increases as the acreage increases but it is noteworthy that the rate of increase in profit is higher when ReshaSaathi IoT is installed.
This profit is shown by considering just the quantity improvements, but the IoT device plays an important role in improving the quality of Cocoons as well which will improve the value the farmers get for their cocoons thus the further improvement in their income.
To conclude, the ReshaSaathi IoT device is a feasible and profitable addition for a silk farmer to improve his productivity and profitability.