Expertise weaves a stronger silk provide chain

Technology weaves a stronger silk supply chain

2021-06-22 19:13:18

Karnataka-based silk agritech startup ReshaMandi helps to convey completely different strands of the trade collectively by way of IoT and different app-based providers

Silk occupies a main place in our nation’s sartorial profile. The Indian wardrobe is never full with out silk clothes, particularly saris, that operate like a cultural calling card for the nation’s weaving communities. Locations like Mysore, Kanchipuram, Tirubhuvanam, Varanasi, Bhagalpur and Chanderi are well-known for his or her silks even amongst those that could haven’t visited them.

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India is the one nation that produces all of the 5 identified industrial silks — mulberry, tropical tussar, oak tussar, eri and the distinctive gold-tinted muga. Of those, mulberry silk is essentially the most broadly produced, with 25,345 metric tonnes produced in 2018-19.

Switching to science

Regardless of being the world’s greatest shopper of silk and its second-largest producer, India doesn’t fare too nicely on the sericulture scene. Although silk manufacturing began within the fifteenth Century within the nation, it nonetheless features as a cottage trade, and due to this fact suffers from lack of organisation. Sericulture employs roughly 9.18 million individuals in rural and semi-urban areas in India, in response to Central Silk Board estimates.

Fasal IoT device on a mulberry farm managed by ReshaMandi in Karnataka.

And ‘moriculture’ (a time period for the cultivation of mulberry for the aim of rearing silkworms), is simply step one on this silken journey that has historically been extra about subjective perceptions than scientific calculations. Surprisingly, there was little change in the way in which silk has been produced for over centuries. The domesticated Bombyx mori moth (silkworm) has a truncated life span, as a result of the cocoons are harvested whereas nonetheless in a pupa stage. A course of referred to as ‘stifling’ (involving boiling, baking or steaming the cocoons) kills the pupa inside whereas serving to human employees to find the top of the thread to be unwound — mechanically or manually. Clearly, this darkish facet of the silk trade has raised moral questions in current occasions, and plenty of extra moth-friendly alternate options reminiscent of ‘wild silk’ and ‘Ahimsa silk’ have been developed, which permit the silkworm to finish its life cycle.

“The silk provide chain all the time had an issue of not understanding precisely what they’re producing by way of high quality. Silk [mulberry] farmers can not perceive the worth fluctuations for his or her cocoons, whereas reelers who operate like cartels, utilizing arbitrary testing strategies, might be biased in opposition to a product from sure areas. We are attempting to alter this by utilizing high quality because the benchmark for not simply pricing, but in addition manufacturing,” says Mayank Tiwari, founder and CEO of the silk agritech startup ReshaMandi, based mostly in Bengaluru.

Tiwari co-founded ReshaMandi with Saurabh Agarwal and Utkarsh Apoorva in April final 12 months to digitise sericulture manufacturing from farming, thread processing (reeler models) to cloth weavers and enterprise organisations with platforms based mostly on Synthetic Intelligence (AI) and Web of Issues (IoT).

Cocoons in a rearing shed.

Until date, the startup has labored with 7,500 mulberry farmers, 560 reeling crops and three,840 weaving models.

Letting high quality converse

The startup initially helped to unravel the logistics issues confronted by sericulture farmers and reelers because of the lockdown’s transport restrictions.

Precision agriculture

  • ReshaMandi’s three way partnership with Bengaluru-based agritech firm Fasal in Karnataka goals to take the guesswork out of mulberry cultivation particularly to cut back water wastage, whereas growing the leaf yield considerably.
  • For this, a cumulative extent of six acres of farms managed by ReshaMandi in Sarjapura, Hubbali, Anekel Taluk and Bengaluru had been chosen with a variety of soil textures reminiscent of sandy loam, loam, and silt loam.
  • The age of the plant different from 2-10 years. The high-yield V-1 number of mulberry was chosen for the Karnataka trials in line with suggestions of the Central Sericultural Analysis and Coaching Institute (CSTRI) for irrigated situations within the State.
  • Fasal Programs measured and reported on three crop cycles. It was noticed that when irrigation was managed considerably each in frequency and software, the leaf moisture in each check and management plots remained related.
  • Based mostly on the predictive intelligence supplied by Fasal, ReshaMandi’s farms had been in a position to witness a 30-50% improve in biomass and space of mulberry leaves harvested.

Over the previous 12 months, its app-based providers have grown to incorporate cocoon sourcing and grading, farmer advisories on mulberry cultivation, illness detection in chawki (younger silkworms) and truthful value advertising and marketing.

It has additionally tied up with Bengaluru-based agritech startup Fasal, in an progressive precision farming undertaking that goals to avoid wasting water sources whereas growing the mulberry leaf yield.

To hurry up the method, ReshaMandi ensures that cocoon grading outcomes can be found inside a day. By eradicating the geographical particulars, the startup tags the cocoon tons by their examined high quality scores, which ensures a good value.

“ReshaMandi’s certificates has change into a high quality deal with for farmers and reelers; that is offered to the weavers as nicely. If we all know the denier (a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibres, equal to the burden in grams of 9,000 metres of the yarn) ( of the silk, we are able to calculate the precise grammage of the sari that may be woven with it,” says Tiwari.

Farming meets IoT

On the farming degree, ReshaMandi presents two IoT gadgets, one to observe the soil’s carbon and moisture content material, and the opposite to keep up supreme air high quality, temperature and humidity ranges within the rearing shed. Whereas the app is free to make use of, the gadgets can be found on month-to-month subscription.

The gadgets are related with an app put in on a farmer’s smartphone (for Android 5.0 and up). The in-house developed app is out there on Google Play Retailer as ‘ReshaMandi, The New Silk Route’. Sensors put in within the discipline and rearing sheds allow ReshaMandi to ship textual recommendation by way of the cellphone, with follow-up calls if required.

A mulberry farmer using ReshaMandi app.

Farmer D Raghu from Ittanguru village in Sarjapur, Karnataka, has been rising mulberry on his three-acre plot for a decade. Since signing up for ReshaMandi eight months in the past, his earnings have gone up by at the least 30% .. “I didn’t know methods to irrigate the mulberry crops earlier than, so typically it was an excessive amount of. The ReshaMandi machine has helped me to cut back the water used for irrigation; now I can share my surplus with different farms within the neighborhood,” he says.

As soon as Raghu’s cocoons are prepared, ReshaMandi undertakes the advertising and marketing. Earlier, with 200 DFL (disease-free laying) chawki, Raghu may count on to get round 200 kilograms of silk; with ReshaMandi’s farming advisory, this has risen to 230-235 kilograms this 12 months, he says.

Significance of water

“Mulberry leaf high quality is crucial a part of sericulture,” says Karan Gowda, an agronomist who works with ReshaMandi.

He elaborates, “If the leaves are too moist (on account of overwatering), the silkworms can bloat and die. If they’re too dry, the silkworm might be prematurely destroyed contained in the cocoon. The impact of imperfect cocoon silk might be seen proper as much as the top product (the threads have a tendency to interrupt extra simply), which is why irrigation should be exactly measured. The IoT machine helps to manage water ranges in response to the farm’s soil situations. We additionally advise farmers to make use of natural fertilisers to keep away from pests and illnesses in mulberry cultivation.”

Range required

Silk has many makes use of past simply luxurious clothes, says ReshaMandi founder Tiwari. “Keratin extracted from silk cocoons can be utilized to make medical bandages. Silk-based coatings can be utilized in meals packaging, for which we now have collaborated with Mori, a Boston, Massachusetts-based expertise firm that makes use of silk protein to create a protecting layer that slows down three key mechanisms that trigger meals to spoil. The waste materials of silkworms will also be used within the fisheries trade as fodder in fisheries,” he says.

Whereas spreading out throughout silk-producing clusters in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, ReshaMandi has reached out to weavers in Benares, Maheshwari, Chanderi, Salem and Dharmavaram this 12 months. “I hope that retailers in India begin understanding the necessity to change into digital. With extra individuals staying in throughout the pandemic, silk retailers must discover ways to adapt and cater to this new buyer base,” says Tiwari.

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