Piloting Silk Production in Kakheti
The ancient tradition of silk production in Georgia is currently on the verge of disappearance. To date there is only one remaining soviet cocoon collection and drying facility in Atskuri village, Akhmeta municipality, Kakheti Region. The facility built in 1971, was used to receive raw silkworm cocoons from farmers, dry and supply the dried cocoons to the silk thread factory in Telavi. Recognizing the untapped potential of this facility, the ALCP2 aims to create a nexus for the revival of the silk value chain in Kakheti as a silk workshop and a tourist attraction with producers in local villagers and the local VET college administering the building and offering short courses.
The interest of the rural population in rearing silkworms and producing cocoons was revealed in the ALCP2 Sericulture Market Research. A local sericulture specialist from the Soviet era who supervised the drying facility was hired as a consultant and supported the farmers who learned about the initiative through the Akhmeta and Gurjaani Women’s Rooms. In June 2023, local women harvested ten kilograms of silkworm cocoons with immense enthusiasm, igniting the belief that silk production has the potential to thrive in Georgia. The eggs were obtained from the Sericulture laboratory of the Scientific Research Centre of MEPA. The women dedicated a month of their time in May and June 2023 to rear the silkworms at home.
‘The past few weeks have been incredibly captivating for all of us involved; I aspire to continue this in the future and produce more silk cocoons. It is worth mentioning that the interest towards silkworm rearing and cocoon production is quite high. Whilst rearing the silkworms, groups of students and teachers from schools came to see the process. I know other farmers who want to produce silk cocoons next year.’
Farmer from Zemo Alvani village, Akhmeta municipality.
A cocoon harvesting event celebrated the successful production of silk once again, in the villages where silkworm rearing was part of the family tradition for centuries. The precedent has ignited local farmer interest to become involved in cocoon production next season. It has also captured the attention of the local VET college inspiring them to create a short-term course for silkworm rearing and traditional silk handicrafts. The dedication and enthusiasm showed by the local women and the growing interest among farmers and vocational institutions is a promising sign for the future revitalization of the silk industry albeit one now orientated to rural tourism and crafts.
Media too was enthralled by the story see: A Reportage by the Georgian Public Broadcaster – Sericulture in Kakheti;