The Union of the Vegetal Staple fibre Industries in the State of the Bahia (Sindifibras) congregates the bahian companies in the natural staple fibre areas, mainly sisal, cotton and coconut. Authorized to function for the Ministry of the Work in August of 1977, for initiative of the entrepreneur Adalberto de Souza Coelho, the Sindifibras had as its first president the entrepreneur Mr Wilson Andrade.
Could you run through the quarter century history of Sindifibras and its activities?
"Sindifibras was founded 30 years ago to organize the production chain of natural fibers industries in Bahia. Since then we are trying to understand this industry in Brasil and abroad, identifying the major problems of the sector and trying to give solution to them. Sindifibras represents the private sector but we work very closed with governmental e international agencies. Over the course of its 27 years history, Sindifibras has worked actively to uphold the interests of businessperson in its sector, both in Brazil and worldwide. In regard to workers, Sindifibras is responsible for negotiating and contracting the economic and social terms of labor conventions, which are signed every year together with Sinditextil, the labor union for this sector. Every year, in this area, further benefits are added, including health care, and educational and financial assistance. In conjunction with business leaders in the industry, Sindifibras offers legal aid and business support for any disputes that may emerge among its members and handles relations with municipal, state and federal taxes agencies. It should be observed that several studies and proposals have been made to improve taxes laws, requests for incentives and even legal actions sponsored by Sindifibras in defense of its members. In addition to its day-to-day activities, Sindifibras since 1995 has held periodic seminars to discuss the present situation and future trends for natural fibers. The 1995 seminar produced a protocol for restoring sisal farming signed by the State Government and eight other institutions active in this sector. As a result of this protocol, other agreements have been signed to ensure that measures are taken and investments are made to grow the sisal economy. Sindifibras also plays a key role on the international front. Its directors have taken part in the most important meetings of institutions such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and the UN Industrial Development Organization (Unido). Brazil's positions are presented at these meetings for analysis, suggestions and investments in the development of public policies for the natural fiber industry. "
sisal fibres have extensive application in Technical Textiles. How do you read about the future prospects for Technical Textiles with sisal at the base?
"The future is bright for natural fibers. And, Sisal is the most promising one for them. Sisal fibers used with natural or synthetic resins can be better in technical terms, more economic and environment friendly. For example: to produce furniture, by using fiber grass, the chairs become more durable, less weighted, less expensive and a lot better when compared with the synthetic fibres. The consumption of Sisal fibres in Brasil for produce automobile parts was more than 10,000 tons last year. In Germany they used 20,000 tons of natural fibres, mainly hemp, for the car industry. In these days, each automobile can consume from 40 to 60 kilos of natural fibre. If all industries start consuming this quantity, one day the global industry will need to double the natural fibres production to attend the demand. This will mean millions of new jobs in developing countries and many benefits for the environment. The auto industry is ahead in this process because they have environment laws to abide. Until 2010, they will have cars with 90% recyclable. But, it is very important that the others industries also take advantage of the use of natural fibres substituting fibers glass. All industries as furniture, electronics equipments, boats, etc have started researches to use natural fibres. But this is a very slow process. We are trying to develop a kind of PELLET, with 50% SISAL FIBRE and 50% SYNTHETIC resins. Once succeeded in this effort, there would be a tremendous short cut in process leading to great revolution in NATURAL FIBRES ECONOMY. For, these PELLETS could be used in all EXTRUDE MACHINES, for which currently POLIETYLENE and PROLYPOPILONE GRAINS are used. "
What is the size of the market and what is the growth potential of Sisal fibre?
"Brazil is currently the world’s leading producer and exporter of Sisal fibre and manufacturers, with market shares of 58% for production and 70% for exports. Sisal is planted in 112 northeastern municipalities. The state of Bahia is the top producer. This crop is key to the economy of the Brazillian Northeast because it can be grown in semi-arid areas with few economic options and poor HDI ratings. It is a factor for survival because it is labour intensive and helps stem the rural exodus. The sisal supply chain currently employs about 600,000 people. Between 1995 and 2005, annual fiber production ranged fron 110,000 to 140,000 tons. Currently, about 87% of domestic production is exported, generating foreign exchange valued at approximately US$80 million per year. The average price of sisal exports has varied greatly, bringing down foreign exchange earnings. By changing the performance of our exports and increasing the share of products with greater value added we could increase the average price and optimize revenues. In 2004, surplus domestic production was exported to 84 countries. The Federal Government is working to improve the entire supply chain. 20 years ago production of Sisal fibres was around 800,000 tons which has been recorded to be reduced to 250,000 tons. Thus, we have lost market to synthetics fibres, and now it is the time to recover. "
How do you see current developments within the natural fibres market?
"Already the world's leading sisal producer, Brazil is preparing to consolidate its commanding market share by making a massive effort to boost harvest productivity and fiber quality. Brazilian Sisal describes the growing demand and increasing competitiveness of this product, as well as research projects that are creating new uses for sisal waste and fiber. During this important period for the sisal industry, Sindifibras-Natural Fibres Industries Association is doing its part to bring together and network with producers, researchers and government agencies at analytic seminars held in Brazils sisal-producing areas. This debate has converged with those of national, and more recently, international conferences with the aid of Apex, which is driving a new growth cycle for the sisal economy by promoting Brazilian sisal world market. Now that the sisal industry is effectively organized, the following objectives have been set: we aim to increase harvest productivity from 800 to 1200 kilos per hectare, improve fiber quality by reviving an official classification system, consolidate the use of sisal mucilage in animal feed and fertilizer, and develop technologies for using sisal in the thermoplastics, geotextile and fiber-cement industries. We also need to improve equipment used in decortications, preliminary processing and the manufacture of sisal twine, cord, textiles and rugs. Finally, we want to show the world market the technical, economic and environmental advantages of sisal. The creation of a seal of quality for sisal products, another item on the Sisal-Apex Project's agenda, will help promote Brazilian sisal by ensuring compliance with technical specifications, while certifying best practices, fair trade and environmental responsibility in the productive chain. All of these activities, which are entirely interrelated, will ensure the sustainability of Brazil's sisal economy and make two major contributions: providing better incomes and quality of life for over half a million people whose livelihoods depend on this product, and making sisal more competitive on the world market. I would like to send a word of encouragement to the people working in every link in the productive chain, in the countryside and the cities: farmers and businesspersons active in this sector who have overcome hardships with courage, persistence and moral fiber, and are continuing to strive for a better future. "
Is your company planning innovations particularly in the areas of application of Sisal fibres?
Yes, we are developing new researches in Sisal to be used in ASBESTO CEMENT (AMIANTO) and also for GEOTEXTILES.
Can you brief us on main stages of INMETRO certifications?
" Inmetro is the accrediting authority for the organization responsible for product certification. The main stages of the certification process are as follows: -The manufacturer selects an accredited certifying agency for the product to be certified; -Then the manufacturer sends that certifying agency all pertinent documentation for the product and its production process; - The certifying agency analyzes the documentation, identifies a non-conformities and informs the manufacturer'- An audit of the manufacturer is then scheduled and conducted by the certifying agency; - The manufacturer is informed of any non-conformities found during the audit and takes steps to rectify them; - Then the manufacturer receives a permit from the certifying agency to use its compliance logo; - Several follow-up measures are carried out, particularly periodic and extraordinary audits. Certifications for products and services have different objectives, to wit: - Safeguarding consumer health and safety and protecting the environment; - Protecting competition by informing consumers about complying products and removing non-complying products from the market when they fail to meet compulsory certification standards; - Adding value to brands, since consumers, particularly institutional buyers are beginning to value certified products; - Providing access to demanding markets and overcoming technical barriers. There are three critical factors for certification programs to achieve international recognition: - Being in line with international practices; - Having an official accreditation agency (Inmetro in the case of Brazil); - Working on the basis of fairness, full disclosure and impartiality. In the specific case of the sisal sector, there is no doubt that certification will add value to its products; most importantly, it will facilitate access to the global market. Because sisal is a renewable natural resource that can be produced in an environmentally responsible and socially equitable way, it will represent an excellent alternative in the context of the global economy, as long as its properties are demonstrated through certification. This procedure is adding more and more value to products whose production is consistent with the concepts of sustainability. The quality seal develop by Sindifibras and Inmetro will not only guarantee technical specifications, but also social and environmental conditions of the production chain. Identification of each yarn coil will make possible to know exactly from which industry and which farm it come from. It is also going to be a strong sale support mainly for the small companies."
Could you brief us on Sisal-Apex project?
"Aware of the Brazilian fibres sector trade and productive potential, the trade and Investment Promotion Agency APEX-Brasil, in partnership with the Sindifibras-Natural Fibres Industries Association works to promote and competitively insert the small and medium-sized companies in other markets, mainly in Asia, Europe and North America. The project relies on an investment of R$ 1 million and benefits around 600 thousand people who work and depend directly or indirectly on the sisal productive chain. Its actions focus the diversification of products and markets. It also involves the improvement of the quality of the fibre produced in Brazil, the identification of new uses for it and the strengthening of the sector. Brazil is currently the largest fibre producer and exporter in the world. However, besides keeping this important position, the country strives for more. It invests in the diversification of products, intensification of job opportunities increase in the number of companies and on their exports. To reach these goals, many actions, such as market prospection, creation of quality and origin brands and participation in fairs and events, are planned and constantly being organized.With such actions, focus, planning and a hard work, Sisal-APEX hope that the Brazilian sisal keeps contributing to the excellent results we have accomplished in foreign trade and to maintain our image abroad of a country that combines beauty, quality, technology and modernity, producing excellent commodities and diverse, competitive and competitive products. "
What are your views on the year 2009 being declared as the International Year of Natural Fibres by the UN General Assembly?
The Inter-governmental Group on Hard fibres composed by 52 countries consumers and producers of natural fibres inside the FAO–ROME, developed the idea and got the approval of the UNITED NATIONS. A global marketing program is to be developed in many countries with all natural fibres involved. There would be a great opportunity under the umbrella of UNITED NATIONS and FAO, to call attention of producers, consumers, research institutions, governments and all agents involved in the decision about economic and environmental issues in the world.