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FAO to organize International Year of Natural Fibres 2009
Dec '08
IYNF 2009 to raise awareness of natural fibres, to promote efficiency and sustainability of the natural fibres, and to foster an effective international partnership among the various natural fibres industries.

The International Year of Natural Fibres has a logo and slogan. We hope this image will become widely known in 2008 and 2009.

What are Natural Fibres?
Natural fibres may be defined as “those renewable fibres from plants or animals which can be easily transformed into a yarn for textiles”.

Animal fibres are largely those which cover mammals such as sheep, goats and rabbits, but include also the cocoon of the silk-worm. Vegetable fibres are derived from the stem, leaf or seed of various plants. Close to 30 million tonnes of natural fibres are produced annually in the world, of which cotton is dominant with 20 million tonnes, wool and jute each around 2 to 3 million tonnes followed by a number of others.

What are Natural Fibres used for?
Natural fibres form an important component of clothing, upholstery and other textiles for consumers, and many of them also have industrial uses in packaging, papermaking and in composite materials with many uses, including automobiles.

Why are Natural Fibres important?
Apart from their importance to the consumer and in their various industrial uses, natural fibres are an important source of income for the farmers who produce them. In some cases they are produced on large farms in developed countries, but in many developing and least developed countries proceeds from the sale and export of natural fibres contribute significantly to the income and food security of poor farmers and workers in fibre industries. For some developing countries natural fibres are of major economic importance, for example, cotton in some west African countries, jute in Bangladesh and sisal in Tanzania. In other cases these fibres are of less significance at the national level but are of major local importance, as in the case of jute in West Bengal (India) and sisal in north-east Brazil.

Why an International Year of Natural Fibres?
Since the 1960s, the use of synthetic fibres has increased, and natural fibres have lost a lot of their market share. The main objective of the International Year of Natural Fibres is to raise the profile of these fibres, to emphasise their value to consumers while helping to sustain the incomes of the farmers. Promoting measures to improve the efficiency and sustainability of production is also an important aspect of the Year.

Who decided that 2009 would be the International Year of Natural Fibres?
The idea came from a meeting of fibre producing and consuming countries in FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. At the request of FAO, the actual declaration was made by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 December 2006.

Who will organise the International Year?
There is a coordinating unit in FAO, but a great many other organisations and people will be involved. An International Steering Committee, with representatives from various fibre organisations, consumer bodies, and funding agencies, will meet from time-to-time to guide the programme. Most of the activities will be organised by partner organisations, some at the international level, and many more within individual countries.

Food and Agriculture Organization

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