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Plans set for Silk Research Centre at RUPP

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A large cutout of a silkworm is displayed at an event on Tuesday announcing plans for a research centre at RUPP. Heng Chivoan

Plans set for Silk Research Centre at RUPP

Cambodian silk producers will be soon able to get quality silkworms from a breeding centre at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), thanks to a specialised team that is seeking to increase professionalism in the Kingdom’s silk industry.

RUPP on Tuesday held an event to kick off the new Silk Research Center, saying they expect to produce and distribute healthy worms to community producers later this year.

Mey Kalyan, chairman of the Board of Directors at RUPP, said Cambodia’s silk products aren’t part of a complete production line and so the country relies heavily on imported silk for its final product.

While there are many Cambodian farmers using silkworms, Kalyan said they follow old feeding traditions without having the benefit of a breeding centre, and this results in low yields.

He said the Kingdom can produce only about one percent of the total demand for silk, and that more than $30 million is spent on importing 400 tonnes of it per year.

“Our goal is to promote finished silk products made entirely in Cambodia. We want our university to be a professional research centre to supply healthy silkworms and help farmers produce high-quality silk,” he said.

Kalyan said if farmers feed 100 silkworms by hand, the survival rate is only about 20 percent. But the specialised team from RUPP carried out experiments with feeding techniques that brought the survival rate to more than 90 percent.

Many silk producing communities were present at the event, including the Banteay Dek Agriculture Research Station from Kandal province, the Institute of Khmer Traditional Textiles from Siem Reap province and the Aoral Silk Community from Kampong Speu province.

Huot Sokha, a representative of Aoral Silk, said that his community is currently planting silkworm food crops on 12 hectares and so will need about 180,000 silkworms four times a year to produce 32kg of silk.

“When we have the [food crop] leaves and healthy silkworms, we will operate a handicraft workshop or small-scale factory [to produce silk],” he said.

“It will make our nation proud if we can produce silk products made entirely in Cambodia.”

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