5 Largest Silk Producing Countries

Natural silk is “the queen” of the textile fibers, being used from the old times due to its unique qualities, drapping, shinning and brightly painting. Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The best-known silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm reared in captivity. The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fiber, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colors. Following are the 5 largest silk producing countries.

1. China

Silk fabric was first developed in ancient China, the largest silk producing country around the world. The earliest example of silk fabric is from 3630 BC, and it was used as wrapping for the body of a child. In 2005, China accounted for 74 percent of the global raw silk production and 90 percent of the world export market with 290,003 metric tonnes production. In 2009 the production was 574,099 metric tonnes. Initially silk fabrics were the preserve of royalty but gradually they spread throughout the Chinese culture. From China, silk was transferred to neighboring Asian countries both the as a tradable commodity and the silk farming and weaving techniques. Silk trading from ancient China extended beyond the Indian sub-continent into Europe and North Africa, comprising a major and highly profitable commodity along the extensive network of trading routes known as the Silk Road.

2. India

Silk has a long history in India. It is known as Resham in eastern and north India, and Pattu in southern parts of India. Recent archaeological discoveries in Harappa and Chanhu-daro suggest that sericulture, employing wild silk threads from native silkworm species, existed in South Asia during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization dating between 2450 BC and 2000 BC, while "hard and fast evidence" for silk production in China dates back to around 2570 BC.
India is the second largest producer of silk in the world after China. About 97% of the raw silk comes from five Indian states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Each region has distinct styles and designs. India is also the largest consumer of silk in the world. India produced 131,661metric tonnes in 2009.

3. Uzbekistan

Although the production of silk fiber and making of clothes is basically automated today, almost all silkworm breeding in Uzbekistan occurs within individual farms, where most of the cocoons are still bred as they have been, perhaps, since the 4th century. .From the end of April to the beginning of May, out of the stock of the previous agricultural years, the Uzbek Government distributes silkworm eggs of on average 20 grams to all farmers who wish to breed them. Silk material for making clothes is woven out of several wound threads of fiber. On the whole, about 30,000 tons of cocoons are produced in Uzbekistan every year. In 2009, Uzbekistan produced 25,896 metric tonnes of silk.

4. Brazil

This is the largest silk producing nation in South America with production of 4,835 metric tonnes in 2009. The industry has developed here in more modern times. Brazil harvests and exports raw silk and silk yarn. It is the only country outside Asia where silk production is steadily raising against threats from other industries. Brazil’s silk season begins in September/October and lasts until May and farmers take flour corps in the year. 

5. Thailand

In Thailand, silk is harvested and produced throughout the year, typically after the rice harvest season. Silk is produced year-round in Thailand by two types of silkworms, the cultured Bombycidae and wild Saturniidae. Different regions in Thailand have their particular types of silk which vary in colors and styles. Silk weaving is traditionally a woman’s job, carried out on hand looms with skills passed down the generations. It is a laborious process – half a kilo of Thai silk takes 40 hours of hand-reeling – but the results are exceptional quality. The threads are then bleached to remove the nature yellow tint of Thai silk, before weaving on traditional hand-driven looms. Modern silk production uses mechanized reels although there is still great demand for hand-reeled silk threads. The country produced 4,655 metric tonnes of silk in 2009.
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