Finding art in discarded cocoons

BENGALURU: A college in Chintamani is encouraging the use of discarded cocoons to create handicrafts.

College of Sericulture, near Chintamani in Chikkaballapur district, is helping several people earn an additional income with their newly acquired skills.

Though not a traditional occupation, women and village self-help groups have been quick to identify the benefits of a skill development programme run by the college.

Since 2008, when the college first started making craft items from cocoons, more than 2,000 people, mostly women and the specially abled, have benefited, according to Prof M Vijayendra, College of Sericulture.

Waste to wealth

The idea of using discarded silk cocoons, found abundantly in the region, inspired Vijayendra to come up with the initiative.

"By trial and error, we created garlands and craft items. Not one bit of the discarded cocoon is wasted," he said.

The college then used the knowledge gained from its experiments to train women and the specially abled.  "Of late, the major thrust has been to train the specially abled so that they can earn revenue and stand on their own feet," he said.

The college has a tie-up with Aadhaar School for the Physically Challenged, Chintamani, and Swabhimani Vikalachetanara Kshemabhivruddhi Sangha, Kolar.

Cocoon shells

Only some cocoons, from which silk cannot be extracted, are discarded. They are collected from government and private grainages in the region.

The skills can be taken to several villages in the vicinity, Vijayendra said.

About 95 per cent of discarded cocoons are sent to Jammu and Kashmir where they are used to make carpets. The new trend in southern Karnataka could create a bigger market for it locally.


Amrutavalli, head of Aadhaar School for the Physically Challenged, says the business is boosting the confidence of the specially abled. "Our school used to produce handicrafts, and we have now diversified," she said. About the skill development programme, she said those with experience could earn up to `5,000 a month.

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