The Centre for Muga, Eri Research and Training Institute, Lahdoigarh here has invented a slew of machines which will help boost production of Assam’s golden silk.
Mridul Ch Sarmah, scientist D, planning and monitoring cell of the institute said that all three inventions had recently been given patents.
One of the machines, a reeling machine named Bani, designed by scientist D, AK Paul, is for weft Muga yarn reeling.
“Bani is a motor cum pedal operated, single basin, 4-end capacity machine and works on cottage basin principle and produces zero twist flat muga yarn suitable for weft in weaving,”Sarmah said.
Bani can be operated by a single person in sitting posture and productivity is more than double than Bhir, the traditional machine.
Bani reels out 120-140 gram per day against 80-100 g by Bhir which engages two persons. The cost of the machine is Rs.14, 500 (excluding transportation).
The machine can also be used for mulberry cocoon reeling. The amount of reeling achieved is 70 per cent which is 10 per cent higher than Bhir.
Sarmah said that the silk recovery is 45-50 per cent which is 4 per cent higher as compared to Bhir’. The reeling efficiency achieved is 71 per cent, which is 10 per cent increase over conventional reeling.
The cost benefit ratio in ‘Bani’ is higher (1:1.3) over ‘Bhir’ (1:1.1).
Another machine, Muga cocoon dryer also designed by AK Pal was fabricated for stifling and drying of Muga cocoons using locally available fuels like firewood, dry leaves etc.
“The muga cocoon dryer works on hot air drying principle and its capacity is 8000 muga cocoons at a time. About 40,000 cocoons can be stifled and dried uniformly in 8-9 hours without loss of yarn quality. This is very useful in areas where electric power is not available for drying of cocoons,” Sarmah said.
Silk recovery and productivity increases from the cocoons stifled and dried by this method. Cocoons dried in the dryer are suitable for longer storage and is technologically better than sun drying and smoke stifling.
The process will give the cocoons a golden shine whereas it is often seen that muga stifled by firewood has a smoky grey tinge.
The third innovation by scientist C, Jayanta Ghose, is a chemical formulation for cooking of Muga cocoons which can enhance the Muga silk recovery up to 55 per cent against 40-48 per cent silk recovery in traditional khar and soda cooking method.
“This low cost chemical named as Muga Silkplus (Rs. 220 per 500 gm) is soluble in water. Hence, the cooking process is simple. The quality of reeled yarn is also improved by this chemical. The product has also got patent, “Sarmah said.
Both Pal and Ghose have been transferred to other Central Silk Board facilities. Assam has got the GI tag for Muga which is a wild silk.