Sericulture (silk production) is an agro based technology. It has a number of processes that entail cultivation of feed plants, silkworm rearing and silk fiber processing. It enables to generate income and created employment to various social classes of people involved in the production. Existence of favorable climate, availability of adequate feed plants and familiarity of Ethiopians with spinning of fabrics like cotton gave an added advantage for promotion of the technology. In Ethiopia, the history of silk production goes back to the 1930s when the Italians realized the suitable agro-climatic conditions for growing feed plants and rearing silk worms. They introduced the technology and grew mulberry plants over 30 sites and conducted silkworm rearing at 11 sites. As a result, they proved the potential of growing mulberry plants and rearing silkworms in diverse agro ecologies and altitudes.


Sericulture technology got consideration by Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) in the mid-1970s as a component of coffee diversification following the sudden outbreak of coffee berry disease (CBD) and the devastation of coffee plantation in the country. As a result, research and development activities were initiated by MARC and efforts continued for some years only in silk worm adaptation experiments. Later on, research had developed integrated management of CBD that consisted resistant varieties and fungicides in early 1980s and the question of coffee diversification became low priority. Sericulture research was subsequently discontinued in the late 1980s due to this priority rearrangement.


The importance of sericulture in creating employment opportunities and generating income was later realized by EIAR and the sericulture project/program was reinitiated in early 2000.



The overall objective is to generate/adopt, multiply and promote improved silk production technologies and information that enable to increase silk production and productivity in Ethiopia thereby to contribute to the development of the national economy.



One castor feeding silkworm strain (Eri-3.4) and one mulberry feeding strain (Kenya 1) were recommended. Among feed plants, castor variety (Abaro) showed superior results in leaf yield and rearing performance of silkworms and recommended.

§  Packages of information was generated on: Silkworm management and post-harvest handling practices, economically important pests of feed plants, agronomic practices for silk worm feed plants, and constraints and opportunities of silk production and marketing

§  Awareness creation was carried out to wide variety of stakeholders through mass media, exhibitions and visits of the center (students, youth and women associations, farmers, town dwellers, investors, religious institutions, etc.)

§  Successive advisory services, theoretical and practical trainings and consultative meetings were carried out with several group of stakeholders

§  Multiplication, distribution and promotion of sericulture technologies have been made for farmers and other stakeholders in the country

§  Linkages have been developed with agro processors and exporters (Saba Har PLC, Bere Silk PLC and Datoo Silk PLC) to strengthen technology transfer efforts, to create marketing system and to empower out growers.

§  Partnership have been created with Higher Learning Institutes for joint sericulture research and promotion efforts as well as capacity building.

§  As a result of research interventions, contributed to a significant increase in silk cocoon productivity.

§  Several encouraging impacts have been attained in terms of creating employment, improving household income and living standards. In some areas income generated from silk production has contributed for the economic independence of women. In general, as the result of supplementary income generated from silk production several progresses were attained among the different social groups involved in the business, particularly small-scale farmers. These include, among others, the current research project “Enhancing silk production and productivity through improvement, multiplication and dissemination of sericulture technologies in Ethiopia”



§  Introduction/adaptation of appropriate technologies and information from countries of similar setting

§  Improvement/development of sericulture technologies and management practices

§  Multiplication and promotion of proven sericulture technologies

§  Undertake human and physical resource capacity building for the national sericulture research

§  Strengthen linkages among the different stakeholders in the country 

§  Create partnership with international institutions