Uganda has the opportunity to graduate from subsistence to commercial farming in some strategic sectors like silk production to become one of the leading suppliers. This was revealed to members of the committee on science, technology and innovation during a field visit to sericulture farms in Bulambuli and Kween districts last week.
Sericulture is the science of rearing silkworms for the production of raw silk.
The committee was taken through the process of silk process by the scientists led by Clet Wandui Masiga the principal investigator for sericulture projects in Uganda.
According to the Commercialisation of Sericulture Technologies in Uganda’s annual performance report for the 2021/2022 financial year, silk is the most expensive textile fibre whose unit price is 20 times the price of raw cotton.
China is the world leading producer of silk followed by India. Globally the demand for silk is more than the supply.
“With a total investment of Shs756 billion ($2.5 billion), 50 000 acres of the Mulberry crop will be developed to facilitate 56 factories, which will be established in 50 districts to create 300,000 jobs worth Shs305 billion annually for government to collect taxes worth Shs54.9 billion annually,” said Masiga.
The lead scientist informed the committee that their mission is to turn Uganda into one of the five leading world silk market suppliers.
Masiga revealed that China is experiencing a steady decline in silk production due to its shrinking working age population and reduction in farmland due to growing urbanisation.
“Uganda has comparative advantages over many countries due to our arable land. If the silk sub-sector is developed, there is potential to spur village level processing especially the cottage industry which would offer income to mostly women and the youth,” he added.
However, Masiga noted that the potential can never be achieved if the project continues to have interruptions in funding as is currently the case in the current financial year.
He emphasised the need for stable funding in order to avoid interruptions or loss of the already invested resources especially the mulberry gardens which feed silkworms.
Esther Mbayo, the Luuka District Woman representative advised the scientists to continue engaging other stakeholders to understand the mission being pursued in the silk sector.
The total planned investment for the project for the five financial years is Shs756 billion and is to be implemented in 50 districts across the country.
There are currently 24 districts have benefited including Bulambuli, Kween, Sheema, Kiruhura, Kamuli, Mubende, Mukono, Iganga, Luwero, Kayunga, Nakaseke Bukedea, Zombo, Nwoya Buikwe, Pallisa, Busia, Amolatar, Otuke, Lira, Agago, Luwero and Pader.
The committee, chaired by Remigio Achia, commenced its familiarisation tour of science-supported projects with the Uganda Industrial Research Institute. It also toured the Kiira Motor Vehicle Plant run by the Kiira Motor Corporation at the Jinja Industrial Park.