What kind of challenges do you foresee with the future production of natural fibres?
We face various challenges and we need to find out more about the current market, its history and future prospects for each type of fibre and links to bio based economic development. May be the benefits of the use of natural fibres should get more attention than synthetics.
• Improve productivity in the fields (kilogrammes -v- hectare), enhancing methods and production, using more productive varieties and combating diseases.
• Structure a universal classification for each fibre and then make international certification systems viable which assure guarantees regarding technical specifications and social and environmental responsibility in the productive chain to present and future consumers.
• Modernize industrial equipment and processes with the aim of improving quality and working conditions for the operators and reducing prices.
• Use 100 percent of plants, with resultant objective of zero waste in our activities. This will increase producers’ incomes and benefit the environment.
• Consolidate markets for new uses composites – where possible substituting glass fibre; fibre cement – substituting asbestos cement (amianthus) and geo-textiles – substituting synthetic products.
• The government could consider the production of natural fibres an area of priority in transition to Green Economic Development and have programmes to encourage the use of renewable materials such as natural fibres.
• Last, but not least, we need to promote our products and their technical, environmental and social advantages. This effort should be focused on possible consumers but especially on our own country, showing our authorities, our producers, our academics and new industries that our fibres can and should be used, providing technical, economical and environmental advantages.
Where do you see the demand and development for sisal, coir and piassava worldwide?
We are always researching new markets. For instance, North Africa has been expanding its use of coir and sisal fibres to produce linings and dry walls. Countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, etc., are investing more every day to produce construction materials, which are strong, light and more economical. Asian markets are also growing fast and have large potential.
Sisal has multiple uses and is also a renewable fibre. How far does coir and piassava meet this diverse usability/pertinence?
Sisal is a little further ahead in this process but there is enormous space for all natural fibres, including coir and piassava. It should be highlighted that coir producing countries sell approximately US$200 million of coir fibre products per year and they are able to sell more.
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