The Art of Soap Making & Sericulture
Sericulture (the production of silk and the rearing of silkworms) was introduced into Nepal in the 1990’s by development aid groups to try to create income generating opportunities for rural Nepali women. Unfortunately, the women were taught how to grow the mulberry bushes and the silkworms but little was done to develop products from the silk produced, so the income generation was minimal.
Ganesh Himal’s trading partner, Nepal Silk, was started by Mohinee Maharjan in order to create sellable products that would provide income and employment for rural women from the silk they produced. Working alongside the silk farmers in Nuwakot, Mohinee trained women in silk weaving, crocheting & soap making. Now women are engaged in the entire economic process from growing the mulberry, to raising the silkworms to creating the final products.
Ganesh Himal Trading has partnered with Nepal silk to create a wonderful handcrafted silk soap made using the traditional cold process method. The cold process does not use external heat so the goodness of the natural ingredients is preserved. Our soaps combine moisturizing coconut oil, natural antioxidant sunflower oil, soybean oil, rich nutrient conditioning olive oil and cold pressed castor seed oil to produce a luxurious lather that cleans your skin naturally. We do not use palm oil. Silk protein, a natural moisturizer, is extracted from the silk cocoon and along with the other natural herbal ingredients helps to keep skin soft, smooth and bright while providing a valuable income-producing product for rural Nepalese women. To compliment the soaps we also sell beautiful crocheted and woven silk scrubbers that help to exfoliate and keep skin healthy.
Ganesh Himal Trading will continue to work with Nepal Silk to create other income producing products for the silk producers in years to come.
Artisan Close-up: Prithivi Maya Tamang
Prithivi Maya Tamang (pictured in the middle in the purple scarf) age 38 from Nuwakot, Deurali, has been working in sericulture for the last eight years. She is living with 7 members of her family including her father-in-law, mother-in-law, and two children (one son and one daughter). Her own mother is also living with her after her father died, as there was no one to look after her and she doesn’t have a son. Prithivi Maya has to look after all her family members as her husband is out of country.
Their main occupation is farming, but the crop yields of rice, wheat & corn are not sufficient to provide food for a whole year and there is no other income source. Her husband went abroad to Malaysia for work about 5 years ago. He took a loan to go to Malaysia which has yet to be paid off. So whatever money he sends is paying back the loan. So the only income, from the sericulture, is used for buying other necessities for the home and also for the children’s education.
In sericulture, the earning is very quick as they keep the silkworms only about one month in one season and within one month, they get paid. So Prithivi Maya is very happy with this work. Her parents are also happy and help her with the work. These days, since Nepal Silk is trying to make different bi-products from cocoon and mulberry fruits and leaves like Silk Soap, Silk Liquid, Mulberry Leaf Tea, etc., they are getting additional benefits from selling mulberry leaf and fruits as well.
After the earthquake, most of the women in the village lost their houses. They are facing problems with rearing the silkworms due to the lack of proper space. But, they are still working in this field as now they desperately need more money to rebuild their houses. The income from the sericulture is a good source of income. So now they are trying to do more mulberry plantations so that they can keep more and more silkworms and increase their income.