Miaoli’s Sericulture Industry

Taiwan’s sericulture industry can be traced back to the Qing Dynasty. During the period of Japanese rule, the Japanese government believed that Miaoli County was suitable for cultivating silkworms due to its climate and environment. Therefore, in the Hakka villages around Miaoli’s townships of Dahu and Gongguan, many farmers cultivated silkworms to produce silk during that time.
Sericulture industry in Miaoli
(All images: Hakka Public Communication Foundation)

The 1950s was the golden age of Taiwan’s silkworm breeding industry. At that time, the total amount of silkworm cocoons cultivated reached more than 100,000 kilograms, more than the record number during the period of Japanese rule. However, in the 1990s, because of low-price competition from China's sericulture industry, which focused on low profits and high turnover, Taiwan’s silkworm industry began to decline. The sector became a sunset industry because practically no farmer wanted to cultivate silkworms, due to the low profits.

However, in Miaoli County’s Shitan Township, a Hakka silkworm farmer named Tu Chuan-ming (涂泉明) persevered for more than 40 years, and through his perseverance, he has contributed to the silkworm industry for many years, becoming a fruitful silkworm farmer in Taiwan.
Tu Chuan-ming

Mr. Tu said that as he produced silk, he began tackling another challenge at the same time. He began trying to make handmade silk blankets. After more than four months of experimenting, he succeeded in making a silk quilt. Since Mr. Tu’s silk blankets are completely handmade and he uses true Taiwan silk, sales of the blankets have been steady. Mr. Tu said: "During high production times, we can raise more than 200,000 silkworms in a month. Since it takes 5,000 silkworms to make one kilogram of silk blanket, if you have healthy silkworms, you can produce more than 40 kilograms of silk each month."
Making a silk quilt

Mr. Tu said: "I am very optimistic about the sericulture industry. It’s still a very promising industry." Based on this belief, Mr. Tu not only continues to work hard in his own farm, he also frequently advises and encourages other people to invest in the industry. 

Mr. Tu has experienced the ups and downs of Taiwan’s silk farming and overcome the difficulties of policy dilemmas. In recent years, he has successfully transformed his business into an ecological education silkworm farm. Focusing on educating the public, his farm provides a chance for people to learn about the ecology of silkworms, and the process of breeding silkworms and harvesting silk. He insists on preserving this long-standing cultural industry and hopes to create a new glory in Taiwan’s silk industry by passing down his knowledge to younger generations.
Mr. Tu works hard in his own farm

Today's Taiwanese sericulture industry strives to transition towards biotechnology development, including applications in gene advances, vaccines for diseases, and beauty products. The sericulture industry is now useful and prosperous in medical surgery (such as surgical sutures), diet, and artistic aspects.