Muga or the golden silk, which is obtained from semi domesticated silkworm Antheraea assamensis is endemic to the Brahmaputra Valley. Silk culture or sericulture is a traditional cottage industry, rooted in the life and culture of Assam. However, climate change has posed a grave threat to the future of this national heritage.
The entire state has been experiencing a crisis in the production of Muga silk due to extreme weather that has adversely impacted the rearing of silkworm which produces the Muga cocoon. Silkworms, grown outdoors, are highly sensitive to climatic conditions.
Of late the vagaries of the weather–unpredictable rainfall patterns, a rise in temperature and persistent flood have taken the toll on Muga cocoon production that has jeopardized the tradition of Muga cultivation in Assam.
Though climate change has been affecting silkworms in Assam, there is no study, research and planning to save the glorious silk of Assam as well as a culture thousands of years old. More importantly, dying of this culture means livelihood of some millions–particularly women, youth, and indigenous communities—would be at stake in Assam.
“I planned an in depth study as to how climate change has been impacting the production of muga in our state and submitted a proposal to the Assam Publication Board under its fellowship programme,” said Mubina Akhtar, author of the book Xunali Xutar Bhabichyaot (Future of the Golden Thread).
“The book is the result of study I undertook in the last three/four years,” she added.
The book was launched in the Guwahati Book Fair along with three other books by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal during inauguration of the Fair on Saturday.
“I compiled this book in the hope that it could make a significant difference in policy decisions related to climate change by bringing grassroots concerns to the notice of policymakers and help in actionable knowledge,” Akhtar added.