Tata Steel’s Sukinda Chromite Mine bid to conserve Sukinda Ecorace

Sukinda: While celebrating International Day of Biological Diversity here today, Sukinda Chromite Mine (SCM) of Tata Steel at Sukinda block of Jajpur district has come forward to take steps to conserve the indigenous silkworm breed Sukinda Ecorace in line with this year’s theme ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods’.

Out of eight breeds of silkworms available in Odisha, hundreds of farmers in the region depend on tasar farming of Sukinda Ecorace for their livelihood. However, since 2007, when Tassar Rearers’ Cooperative Society of Sukinda had reared Sukinda Ecorace, this is now rarely seen as another breed -Daba TV- has almost replaced it with more yields. The natural habitat of superior Sukinda Ecorace breed is Sukinda region where the forest type is tropical moist deciduous and the soil type is red loamy.

While experts of Pilot Project Centre (PPC), Sukinda under state Directorate of Textile and Regional Extension Centre of Central Silk Board (CSB), Baripada have started working on conservation of the specie, SCM has come forward to join hands with them to contribute its bit to save this superior indigenous breed and promote biodiversity. Areas that need urgent intervention for it is being worked out, particularly identifying forest patches of the region where this breed is naturally available, facilitating more cocoon grainages and raising nursery for its primary food plants like Arjun (Terminalia Arjuna) and Asana (Terminalia Tomentosa) etc. are also being explored.

Appreciating SCM for the initiative, Dr Prashant Kar, scientist, CSB, who had joined as guest on the occasion said, conservation of this indigenous variety of silkworm is highly essential to preserve our biodiversity and to increase tasar productivity.

Speaking on the occasion, Ajay Patra, Assistant Director, Sericulture, said it is matter of concern for all of us as the population of Sukinda Ecorace has gone down drastically, serious efforts are required to help conserve the specie.

Elaborating SCM’s commitment to National Biodiversity Target Pankaj Satija, General Manager, Operations, Ferro Alloys and Minerals Division, Tata Steel, said “We have been creating awareness on biodiversity by regularly organising various programmes and we will continue to collaborate with local government agencies for protection and promotion of Sukinda Ecorace to help the local farmers and contribute to biological diversity of the region”.

Around 100 tasar farmers of Sukinda and Bamnipal area had attended the interactive session with the experts including SC Behera, Technical Inspector, PPC, Sukinda, Ashis Chakraborty of noted NGO PRADAN, PK Mohapatra, Secretary, Tasar Rearers’ Cooperative Society, Bagahmunda, Keonjhar.

Cocoon grainage, life cycle of silkworm, tasar weaving and reeling machine and finished tassar products by the weavers were displayed at the side-line of function.

Draupadi Tiria, a national award winning local tasar farmer and 9 other farmers who had exemplary harvest of tasar were felicitated on the occasion.

Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS), the CSR wing of the steel major, is already providing support to more than 420 tasar farmers near Bamnipal through training, exposure visit, monitoring and by providing tools and accessories helping them earn Rs 70.57 lakh in 2015-16.

The support has recently been extended to Mangalpur area of Sukinda block.

Being the first mine in the country to roll out Sustainable Development Framework in January 2016, a concept proposed and promoted by the Ministry of Mines for the development of culture of sustainable mining in the country, SCM has been organising series of events to contribute to National Biodiversity Targets like Spot the Species, Leaf Identification, Green Therapy, Jaibakala Vividhata, Prajatiya Khadyotsav and recently launched an awareness campaign on “Snakes are Friends”.