IMG 20221216 WA0105

Uganda exports its first set of silk yarn branded ‘Usilk’ to Europe

Uganda’s silk grades are going to be tested again in Europe if they meet the (global) European grades or standards.


Mukono, Dec. 16, 2022: Uganda has dispatched its first silk yarn to Europe, this is according to an update released by the Tropical Institute of Development Innovations (TRIDI) on Friday.

“Usilk is 100% Ugandan and our Ugandan silk brand,” said  Robson Aine, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at TRIDI.

“We are very proud we have produced this within the target timeframe. This is a result of Financial Support from the President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, to Scientists through the Innovation Fund. It is the first project of the 17 innovation fund projects funded in FY 2017/2018 to produce a commercial product,” he added.

Earlier this year, Aine also said they promised Ugandans that “we shall start commercial production of silk by December 2022”. This is proven as Uganda sends the first samples for testing in the European market. “This silk yarn is branded USilk.”

Aine thanked Dr Clet Wandui Masiga who is the Executive Director and Sericulture Principal Investigator for adopting the simplistic, efficient and effective model for commercialization.

“He used globally established platforms and systems to do the research and test the research products. Then validated the products and concepts in Uganda and this was done in Sheema. From Sheema the project scaled out to 24 other districts,” the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, added.

According to him, Clet invested a lot in establishing functional partnerships with very clear roles and responsibilities in the Silk value chain. “By the time he started on station and on-farm research, the market was already established.”

Usilk is the first product after the commercialization of sericulture technologies and innovations, a project implemented by TRIDI.

Process and the journey 

The process begins with the garden growing mulberry plants. The leaves of this plant are fed to silkworms reared in a rearing house. The cocoons produced by the silkworm are harvested before the moth emerges to extract the silk thread known as silk yarn through a process of reeling and re-reeling.

Aine, while releasing an update said they have done all this from here (in Uganda), adding that there are many more products we are yet to produce.

“The journey to produce silk from Uganda is a long one and was formerly recognized when Uganda adopted the textile policy that came into force in January 2010,” he recalled, noting that the textile policy emphasizes that silk is another fibre produced in few districts of the country, mainly in the Western and central regions of the country.

If the silk sub-sector is developed, the TRIDI director believes that there is potential to spur village-level processing especially the cottage industry which would offer income opportunities for women and youth.

Sericulture, silk industry and silk by-products industry are contributing to the implementation of the NDP III programme on Innovation, Technology Development and Transfer Programme; Manufacturing; Agro-industrialization, and Natural resources, Environment, Climate change, Land and Water management. It also implements the 2021-2026 NRM manifestos, specifically, Page 184 on the revitalization of the Silk Industry to Create 56 Silk factories and 300,000 jobs across the country.

Project coverage

The project is to be implemented in 50 districts and currently, it is being implemented in 24 districts of Sheema, Kiruhura, Bulambuli, Kamuli, Mubende, Mukono, Iganga, Luweero, Kayunga, Nakaseke, Kween, Bukedea, Zombo, Nwoya, Buikwe, Pallisa, Busia, Amorator, Otuke, Lira, Agago and Pader.

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In Luweero, Mubende, Kayunga, Nakaseke, Kween, Buikwe, Agago, and Pader, as per the demands made by farmers, they are being provided with skills and input. On station is in Mukono, Sheema, Kiruhura, Bulambuli, Kamuli, Mubende, Iganga, Bukedea, Zombo, Nwoya, Pallisa, Busia, Amorator, Otuke, and Lira.

“We have produced three grades of silk yarn which we are sending to one of our biggest target markets in Europe. These grades are going to be tested again in Europe if they meet the global European grades/standard. Once the results are confirmed, we shall commercially produce the first 100 metric tons for the market. This will see usilk in European fashion stores.  This supply will eventually increase to 2000 metric tons.”

IMG 20221216 WA0103
Silkyarn reeling and rereeling processes.

With the production of 2000 metric tons, this will create 300,000 jobs. “We appreciate the support from various government of Uganda Ministries and agencies for providing the necessary support and conducive environment to realize this goal.”

At present, the project has registered great achievements like the establishment of mulberry gardens, the construction of two factories, installed state-of-the-art silk processing machines and equipment, built rearing houses and created employment for over 1300 women and youth, among others.

How is silk produced? Production of silk yarn is by the reeling and re-reeling processes of the raw silk cocoon to the final stages of the desired denier.

TRIDI continues to say they shall continue to balance between advancing science which is our expertise and demonstrating the value of our science to development. “We are also committed to adopting Silicon Valley or Route 128 (Boston) group definition of entrepreneurship which is the creation of significant new wealth through the implementation of new concepts.”

“So we continue to advance science, which is our hobby and we use science to create wealth. The demand for silk products and services is massive and continues to grow. It is an opportunity to develop Uganda.”

At full commercialisation, the government of Uganda will earn approximately UGX500B annually in taxes.

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