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Coir industry needs more public, private aid

Higher public and private investments into modernizing and mechanizing the coir industry in India, the top producer and exporter of the fiber, can help farmers and manufacturers fight off competition from alternative synthetic products, according to the state-run Coir Board.

Coir fibre is a natural fibre extracted from coconut husk. It is used to make several products such as mattresses, brushes and doormats.

Coir fibre production in India between 2009 and 2012 hovered between 5,15,500 MT to 5,25,000 MT, each year. Coir and coir products’ exports earned the country Rs 1,052.63 crore in the 2011-12 financial year, according to government data.

But in India, there exists a need to modernize and mechanize the coir production and manufacturing sectors, to make the industry more competitive. Increasing competition from alternative synthetic products manufactured abroad are posing challenges to the coir sector, said M.Kumaraswamy Pillai, the director of marketing and chief vigilance officer at the Coir Board.

Edited excerpts of the interview:

On top export destinations...

The top 10 countries which import coir products from India are the USA, the Republic of China, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Australia and France.

On factors contributing to the growth of coir and coir products' exports...

Coir is a natural fiber and an environment friendly material. The growing environment consciousness worldover about eco-friendly products is playing an important role in increasing the demand for coir products.  The efforts of the Coir Board and the exporters to popularize products abroad through participation in trade fairs and generic publicity have also been contributing a lot towards the growth of the exports.

On what needs to be done to increase coir fiber production in India...

Coir is a traditional industry which has been utilizing age-old traditional methods of production and manufacturing. Even through modern machinery and production processes have been developed through research and development activities at the Coir Board, a chunk of the industry is still depending upon inefficient methods of production. 

It is expected that popularization of  new machinery and manufacturing processes will increased the production of coir in the country.

On the the challenges faced by the coir industry and solutions to overcome the same...

As mentioned earlier, in the production and manufacturing sectors, there exists a need for modernization and mechanization to make the industry more competitive. 

The increasing competition from alternative synthetic products manufactured abroad are posing challenges to the coir sector.  Enhancing the availability of the raw material of the industry i.e. the Coir fiber, through the utilization of the abundantly available coconut husk; and taking the modern methods of production to the grassroot level are the other challenges faced by the industry.

A flow of enhanced investments into the sector both from various coconut-producing states; the central government; along with private entrepreneurs can make coir a sun-shine industry.