About fifteen countries perform sericulture activities all around the world. The silk produced as a result of these activities is consumed by many countries. The silk was produced in ancient China 4000 years ago. The production method was kept as secret for a long time. Later, silk production firstly began in Anatolia and then in Europe. Sericulture activities have been carried out in our country for approximately 1500 years. The silk production process is achieved by the silk worm through a dense fluid secreted from its gland structural glands. Single filaments are combined to form thread. The silk can be colored easily; it is soft and has a durable nature. Therefore, it has been preferred as a textile raw material throughout the history.
In Turkey, sericulture is a supplementary agricultural activity which doesn’t need much investment. It can be performed within a small scale. The silkworm only needs leaves of mulberry for its nourishing. The process begins with the cocoon and goes on until processing of the silk.
The production of fresh cocoon is mainly performed by elder people and women from families with lower incomes in the areas where agricultural lands are not suitable for other agricultural activities. It has a crucial impact on making use of labor of all family members, preventing disguised unemployment in rural areas, distributing agricultural income more equally. After a very short production period (35-40 days), 26-30 kg fresh cocoons per box can be produced. In Turkey, many families who perform silkworm production make efforts in order to earn their incomes by producing 4-5 boxes silkworms. Turkey has an advantageous climate for mulberry growing, so it is an opportunity for sericulture. The phases for production are growing mulberry tree, silkworm seed, production of fresh cocoon, drawing thread from the cocoon.
Most of the raw silk produced in Turkey is used for silk carpet weaving; some of it is consumed in domestic market as textile products, household goods, needlecraft, and catgut. In sericulture, approximately 500.000 people are employed for the production process from fresh cocoon production to silk carpet marketing. Also, during the same production phases, about 14-fold added value is provided as a result of transformation of fresh cocoon into silk carpet.
In 2009, during nourishment period of spring, 2358 farmers kept 5683 boxes of silk seeds in 211 villages of 28 provinces. As a result, 139,599 kg of fresh cocoon was produced. The eight provinces in which sericulture is intensively performed meet 97% of total fresh cocoon production of the country. Diyarbakır, Antalya and Bilecik meet 69% of total production and 1472 villagers perform sericulture activities.