The major markets for coir products are China, Korea, Japan, Germany, Canada and the US. The Coir Board is now looking at exploring the Australian market with value-added products, Radhakrishnan said.
India accounts for more than two-thirds of the global volume of coir and its products. Kerala accounts for 61 per cent of India's coconut production and 85 per cent of coir products. Every day, tens of thousands of women in Alappuzha, the coir capital of the world, carry heaps of coconut husk, the covering of the nut, feeding machines that turn them into thread.
More than half-a-million workers in the coir industry — two-thirds of them in Kerala — have contributed to more than three-fold growth in coir exports in the last decade, from a mere Rs 473 crore in 2005. The domestic market is estimated at Rs 3,500 crore.
The Chairman stressed on the need to modernise the coir industry to boost productivity and ensure uniformity of coir rolls in the export market. He called upon the Kerala-based coir industry to go in for mechanisation as the labour cost tended to push up the prices of products manufactured in the State.
Kerala, the world leader in the coir sector, has already initiated steps to boost the coir industry. On the agenda is a spread of new products and newer machines to make the yarn. The finer details of the spread might create the best mats ever and could change the character of the coir industry in the coming years.
Radhakrishnan clarified that there is no scarcity or non-availability of raw material for value-added coir producing units. The current trend of coir fibre exports to China was not showing any substantial increase and this has resulted in sufficient availability in the domestic market. The need is approximately one lakh tonnes and is met without any hassles.
Radhakrishnan also said that there is a huge requirement for coir geo-textiles in roads construction and the Board has already laid 18 km of rural road network in Kerala using the material based on a study carried out by NIT, Kozhikode and College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram.
The potential of coir geo-textiles in road construction has already proved as there would be a 25 per cent saving in construction cost, besides increasing the durability of roads for five years.
The Board is in talks with NHAI seeking approval of using coir geo-textiles in the construction of national highways, he said. Once the NHAI approval comes, the coir industry would get a massive boost. (SH)
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