Two young men are busy harvesting tasar cocoons in a three-acre Asan tree forest patch in Panganal village, a few kilometres away from Bamnipal. They – Narsing Ho and Sipren Balmuch aged around 28 years – have been rearing silkworms for the past three years. They belong to Ho tribal community and have found a new interest in sericulture which, they believe, could give them a better life, both financially and mentally.
Being jobless after completing an ITI course from Nilachal Industrial Training Institute in Kalinganagar, Narsing was forced to work as an electrician on call. On the other hand, his friend Sipren, who has never been to school, used to work as a truck driver at chromite mines situated in the region. Both were not happy with their jobs which were risky and uncertain.
One day, they along with some other villagers mooted the idea of tasar rearing in the forest of Asan trees nearby their hamlet. They knew that many people were growing silk cocoons in the peripheral villages of Bamnipal. The region has got large forest area with Asan and Arjun trees, thus becoming suitable for growing silkworm. So they reached the office of Tata Steel Rural Development Society for help and guidance. Officials of TSRDS not only got them trained by experts from Central Silk Board (CSB) but also extended material support in the form of nylon net, gumboot, sprayer, hand saw, pruning saw, tarpaulins, medicines and disinfectants.
In 2016-17, only Narsing and Sipren reared 1.75-kg eggs and done very well. Their income crossed Rs 60,000. They say, “We enjoy doing this work. We can do this by being with our families. It is profitable, safe and permanent. We are also planning to expand the coverage area.”