Egg (Polu koni) is the backbone of silk industry. Healthy egg production is indeed the primary requisite for conducive growth of the entire silk industry. Timely supply of superior quality of silkworm seed can alone sustain sericulture as a commercial crop in competition with other cash crops.
A key factor for success of Sericulture industry is not only augmentation of silkworm food plants but timely supply of superior quality of silkworm seed to the farmers should also be ensured. The quality of silkworm seed may be defined as to the one where the layings are entirely free from diseases, has more nos., of viable eggs, gives uniform hatching and assures a stable crop. The government grainages produce only 10% of total requirement. Remaining 90% seeds are produced by the farmers themselves for their own requirement without resorting to scientific procedures. This practice gives scope for spread of dreaded silkworm disease called pebrine as microscopic examination of mother moth is never resorted or recommended package and practices are not followed by the farmers. Moreover the seed production by the farmers is inconsistent and unorganized. To produce good quality eggs there must be a sound seed organization with proper elite seed multiplication net work to produce large quantities of quality commercial seed. The farmers usually procure seed cocoons from seed areas such as foot hills of Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Eastern Goalpara and south western Kamrup districts in lower Assam.
The muga raw silk production has not shown significant growth and has remained fluctuating between 24 MT to 114 MT from 1938-39 to 2011-12. The fundamental reason behind the poor production is shortage of quality muga seed (eggs) for commercial rearing. Non- availability of quality seed required quantity and in the proper season, for conducting the commercial crop rearing has been attributed to be the major factor the decline of muga silk production. Unlike in mulberry sericulture, the seed is transacted in the form of seed cocoon in muga silk industry which may be the prime factor for the prevalence of pebrine disease in muga silkworm. The crop loss due to pebrine continues unabated and every rearer prepares his laying from the cocoons he choose as seed cocoons; the mother moth after oviposition is not microscopically examined for pebrine and hence the seed prepared is not free of contamination. Thus the muga seed prepared and used by the rearers is of poor quality. Even the departmental agencies supply only the seed cocoons to the reares, and majority of the rearers only prefer seed cocoons and they are very reluctant to accept microscopically examined layings, possibly they are not prepared to change their age old traditional practice and adopt scientific technology. Even the seed cocoons are not readily available to the rearers.
Silkworm seeds are produced in the grainage and therefore grainage is the first and the most important aspect which needs special attention. Success of silkworm rearing largely depends on careful grainage operation. Systematic and methodological grainage not only minimize larval morality due to diseases but also results in vigorous progenies. The grainage operations consist of selection, storage and preservation of seed cocoons.
Muga food plants are spread over an estimated 7800 hectares areas in Assam. The annual requirement of muga seed in the state is estimated to be about 156 lakh garm eggs (seed) for successfully utilized the food plants.