Silk and cotton roads through India

Did you recently acquire a new blouse or a shirt made of silk? Did you enjoy the great soft feeling on your skin? Guess you did not think much about how the silk is produced.  Together with a group of young people traveling around the world and working in a project called "Remote Year" and a group of Boehringer Ingelheim employees, we visited a cocooning market in Coimbatore, India. The journey was made possible by Making More Health as part of the innovation week in India. India is delivering 30% of the world market of silk.

Subsidized by the Indian state of Tamil Nadu local farmer buy eggs of silk worms and feed them on their mulberry farms After roughly one month they can be harvested having produced a cocoon of silk threads. These cocoons are transported to a special market where the quality of the silk is examined and the price paid to the farmer is determined. Also in this respect the government is involved by defining a price corridor which makes the work attractive to the farmers What follows is an intensive process of opening the cocoons, washing them and spinning the material into what we later on appreciate as a wonderful and mostly colorful piece of exquisite garment.

The second stop of the day showed another aspect of the textile industry. Ciel was the name of a company producing cotton shirts in the outskirts of Coimbatore. Our group was deeply impressed by the cleanliness of the production hall, the modern machines and the professional training the more than 800 workers received. It was far from the terrible working conditions under which young women in some other countries and places have to live. Ciel offers decent salaries, 8 hour working shifts, housing, free transport, meals and 15-20 days of vacation per year. They work for some of the major sports and fashion brands and spoke about 15 -20 audits from customers and government each year which evaluate the high production standards. These standards guarantee Indian families an acceptable living and us a good conscience wearing these clothes.