NEWS RELEASE: Tata Steel’s Sukinda Chromite Mine to help conserve indigenous tasar silkworm breed Sukinda Ecorace

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May 23, 2016 – While celebrating the International Day of Biological Diversity here, today, the Sukinda Chromite Mine (SCM) of Tata Steel located at Sukinda block of Jajpur district in Odisha, has come forward to take steps to conserve the indigenous silkworm breed Sukinda Ecorace in line with this year’s theme ‘Mainstreaming biodiversity; sustaining people and their livelihoods’.

Out of the eight breeds of silkworms available in Odisha, hundreds of farmers in the region depend on tasar farming of Sukinda Ecorace for their livelihood. However, since 2007, when Tasar Rearers’ Cooperative Society of Sukinda started rearing the Sukinda Ecorace breed, it was noticed that the breed is rarely cultivated with another breed Daba TV , which gives better yields almost replacing it.

The natural habitat of superior Sukinda Ecorace breed is the Sukinda region where the forest type is tropical moist deciduous and the soil type is red loamy.

While the experts of Pilot Project Centre (PPC), Sukinda under the Directorate of Textile, Government of Odisha and Regional Extension Centre of Central Silk Board (CSB), Baripada, under Government of India have started working on conservation of the species, SCM has come forward to join hands with them to contribute its bit to save this superior indigenous breed and promote biodiversity.

Areas that need urgent intervention for it is being worked out, particularly identifying forest patches of the region where this breed is naturally available, facilitating more cocoon grainages and raising nursery for its primary food plants like Arjun (Terminalia Arjuna) and Asana (Terminalia Tomentosa), etc are also being explored.

Appreciating SCM for the initiative, Dr Prashant Kar, scientist, CSB, who had joined as guest on the occasion said, “Conservation of this indigenous variety of silkworm is highly essential to preserve our biodiversity and to increase tasar productivity.” Speaking on the occasion, Ajay Patra, assistant director, sericulture, Government of Odisha, said, “It is matter of concern for all of us as the population of Sukinda Ecorace has gone down drastically, and serious efforts are required to help conserve the specie.”

Elaborating SCM’s commitment to the National Biodiversity Target, Pankaj Satija, general manager, operations, Ferro Alloys and Minerals Division, Tata Steel. Said, “We have been creating awareness on biodiversity by regularly organising various programmes and we will continue to collaboratewith local government agencies for protection and promotion of Sukinda Ecorace to help the local farmers and contribute to biological diversity of the region.”

Around 100 tasar farmers of Sukinda and Bamnipal area attended the interactive session with the experts including SC Behera, technical inspector, PPC, Sukinda; Ashis Chakraborty of noted NGO PRADAN, and PK Mohapatra, secretary, Tasar Rearers’ Cooperative Society, Bagahmunda, Keonjhar. Cocoon grainage, life cycle of silkworm, tasar weaving and reeling machine and finished tasar products by the weavers were displayed at the sidelines of function. Draoupadi Tiria, a national award winning local tasar farmer, and nine other farmers who had exemplary harvest of tasar were felicitated on the occasion.

Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS), the CSR wing of the steel major, is already providing support to more than 420 tasar farmers near Bamnipal through training, exposure visit, monitoring and by providing tools and accessories helping them earn Rs70.57 lakh in 2015-16. The support has recently been extended to Mangalpur area of Sukinda block.

Being the first mine in the country to roll out Sustainable Development Framework in January 2016, a concept proposed and promoted by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, for the development of a culture of sustainable mining in the country, SCM has been organising series of events to contribute to the National Biodiversity Targets like Spot the Species, Leaf Identification, Green Therapy, Jaibakala Vividhata, Prajatiya Khadyotsav and recently launched an awareness campaign on ‘Snakes are friends’.