Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 15:38 UK

Indian silk 'hit by China quake'

By P Sivaramakrishnan
BBC Tamil service

The Indian silk industry says it is under pressure

Indian silk producers say their industry has been badly hit by a shortage of raw silk from China following the May earthquake.

The quake in Sichuan province killed an estimated 70,000 people.

It also affected about a million people in 60,000 villages in the Indian silk industry, the main organisation for silk exports in India says.

The Silk Export Promotion Council says that India usually imports 10,000 tonnes of raw silk from china annually.

Domestic silk yarn production amounts to nearly 16,000 tonnes annually.

But officials say that the recent earthquake in Sichuan province destroyed the majority of mulberry gardens in the area and as such China is unable to meet its domestic requirements, let alone make up the shortfall in India.

Prior to the quake, India was importing raw silk yarn from China at $20-21 per kilogram.

But after the quake officials say that the price has risen by at least $6 a kilo.

Silk producing towns are spread across northern, eastern and southern India.

The industry is also feeling the effects of competition from synthetic yarn manufacturers.

Officials point out that some polyester fabrics - which look like pure silk - cost only 20% of the price of pure silk fabric.

Many in the Indian silk industry argue that the government should now relax import duty on raw silk from China.

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