China, Cuba Explore Ways To Expand Silk Production

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Leaders from China and Cuba's silk industry met recently to discuss ways to expand silk production in the Caribbean country and explore a new area of bilateral growth. The seminar sponsored in Havana by the Center for Foreign Economic Cooperation (CCEE) of the Ministry of Agriculture of China offered guidance on improving the production and industrialisation of silk in Cuba.

“This is not only a training project, but also contributes to China-Cuba cooperation. We hope this course can become a platform where we can share information, attract business investment and increase exchanges,” said Li Bin, representative of the CCEE. The day included conferences, visits to production sites and workshops where participants learned new techniques in silk development.

The Ministry of Agriculture of Cuba has a five-year sericulture, or silk farming programme, and seeks to expand not only its knowledge of the sector but also attract Chinese investment. Cuba is adopting sericulture as a sustainable alternative to support the development of its biomedical, biotechnological, cosmetic and textile industries, expecting it to increase incomes and jobs. “Our courses here cover the whole process, from cultivating silkworms to producing silk, to silk cocoon processing, dyeing, weaving and even include the medical use of silk fibre,” Wei Kai, a professor from the Soochow University located in Suzhou City, eastern China.

Wei & three other Chinese experts on the subject will provide training to more than 20 Cuban officials. “China has been cooperating with Cuba for five years now and there is a small sericulture experimental field in operation. Our courses here are intended to introduce all relevant technology and products in the sericulture downstream industrial chain to Cuban researchers,” he said.

Luo Zhanyong, chairman of Guangdong SILDA Silk Co, said that this exchange will allow China and Cuba to expand cooperation in this sector. “We hope to take the technological and industrial system of silk production beyond China. Cuba's silk sector has just started and we hope to have a development opportunity in Cuba via this industry,” he said.

Yizhou's silk industry

Yizhou, a county-level city in Hechi, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is an important industrial base for silk farming in China. With silk farming one pillar of its agricultural industry, the city is focusing on building an industrial demonstration area for the sericulture industry.

To further this aim, the local government has promoted its featured pattern of production and management, a system that will unite the resources of enterprises, cooperatives, farmers and the demonstration base. The system will highlight integrated utilisation of byproducts generated by the silkworm industry, and will gradually establish an industrial chain consisting of farming edible mushrooms and mulberry silkworms, and silk reeling.

Technology improves

As one of the places where silk culture originated, Huzhou city in China's Zhejiang province has a long history of silk production. The city's Qianshanyang archeological site is called the "source of silk textiles in the world" since some fabric dating back 4,700 years was unearthed there in the 1950s.

As the silk industry has been transformed & upgraded in recent years, the city has introduced more modern technology to improve its silk processing. Now, a quarter of China's silk fabric is produced in the city.       

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