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Coir Industry in India - An Overview

 
Date: July 26, 2011 Author: Dr. Amit K Chatterjee

Coir is a natural fiber, extracted from the husk of coconut and used in products such as floor mats, doormats, brushes, mattresses etc. Technically, coir is the fibrous material found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut. Other uses of brown coir (made from ripe coconut) are in upholstery padding, sacking and horticulture. White coir is harvested from unripe coconuts, and is used for making finer brushes, string, rope and fishing nets.

                                             VARIETIES AND USE

There are two varieties of coir – brown coir and white coir. Brown coir is harvested from fully ripened coconuts. It is thick, strong and has high abrasion resistance. It is typically used in mats, brushes and sacking. White coir fibers are harvested from the coconuts before they are ripe. These fibers are white or light brown in color and are smoother and finer, but also weaker. They are generally spun to make yarn that is used in mats or rope.

In addition to various uses, Coir mats and Erosion Control Blankets are used to stop or control soil erosion too.

                         PLACES OF ORIGIN

Countries like India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Vietnam, and certain Caribbean Countries produce Coir. Coir’s global production amounts to about 3,50,000 tonnes. India and Sri Lanka being major producers of coir account for around 90% of the world production.     

                        VARIOUS COIR PRODUCTS

Following are the different types of coir products and bi-products

1.         Coir Fiber

2.         Coir Yarn

3.         Floor Mats

3.         Curled Coir

4.         Mattresses

5.         Coir Ropes

6.         Anti-weed blankets

7.         Erosion Control Blankets

6.         Fishing Nets

7.         Coir Pith – A bi-product

                        MAJOR PLAYERS IN COIR INDUSTRY

The golden textured Indian coir fiber that Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Goa produce captured the European and world markets. From then on, there was the success of Indian coir’s reign, and it had no turning back. The big corporates soon established coir factories in Alleppey, Kollam, Kozhikode, Kochi and other parts of Kerala. Industrial giants including Volkart Brothers, William Goodacre, Pierce Leslie and Aspinwall moved in to tap the potential offered by the golden fiber, and Alleppey was soon a household name all over Europe and India           

                        COIR BOARD OF INDIA

Coir Board of India is a Statutory body established by the Government of India under a legislation enacted by the Parliament namely 'Coir Industry Act 1953 (45 of 1953)' for promotion and development of Coir Industry in India and upgradation of looms to increase productivity. Its official web site is http;//coirboard.gov.in

 The Head Office of the Coir Board is at Ernakulam. Board works for the promotion, research, education and training of the coir industry. The Coir Board also participated in 11 international trade fairs and exhibitions during 2005-06 and displayed the range of products available for exports from India.

            SHARE OF COIR ‘INDUSTRY & PRODUCTS’ IN INDIAN TRADE

India is a major exporter of coir and coir products. Latest statistics released for financial year 2009-10 reveal that coir exports grew by 47% in volume terms and 26% in Rupee value terms, over the year-ago level. India exported coir and coir products worth Rs. 804 Crore in 2009-10 Fiscal.

In the 2010-11 Fiscal, the country’s total exports amounted to $247.4 Billion, while coir exports amounted to Rs.807.07 Crore.

Indian Coir Industry employs more than 1.5 lakh weavers and 4 lakh spinners. The industry has been going through a bit of rough patch because of the lack of modernisation and marketing effort. Indian Coir industry is second to agriculture as a source of employment in Kerala, providing employment to 3.83 lakh persons, of whom 3.25 lakh are women.

                        COIR EXPORTS

At present, coir and its products are exported to more than 80 countries, with US being the biggest market with a share of more than 40% in the total export. European countries together share more than 41 % of the exports.

Kerala is the home of Indian coir industry where white fiber, accounting for 61% of coconut production and over 85% of coir products are from women. With 10.05 lakh hectares having coconut cultivation in Kerala, which accounts for 45% of the net cropped area. The coconut out put is estimated at 5759 million nuts annually                

                        MAJOR COIR IMPORTERS

Statistics reveal that US is the largest market for Indian coir products accounting for more than 37 percent of total export, while EU countries import more than 41 percent and remaining share is distributed among Germany, Netherlands, Italy, and Belgium.

                                 GOVT OF INDIA IN SUPPORT OF COIR INDUSTRY

 The Government set up Coir Board under the provisions of Coir Industry Act, 1953 for overall development of coir industry. With a view to making the traditional industries more productive and competitive and facilitating their sustainable development, Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises has two schemes: Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), Rejuvenation, Modernisation & Technology Upgradation of Coir Industry  (REMOT).

                             Export Statistics of Coir and Coir Products

  Quantity in Tonnes & Value in Rs. Lakh :

Product

2007-08

Quantity    Value

2008-09

 Quantity    Value

2009-10

  Quantity              Value

Curled Coir

1279.99

152.06

1438.38

223.85

3365.70

668.33

Coir fibre

11101.64

1224.14

19443.54

2390.89

73074.93

9742.03

Coir Rugs & Carpet

178.14

134.40

63.83

67.63

46.17

45.38

Coir Pith

83613.24

6384.77

96996.32

6462.30

131916.67

12347.06

Coir Rope

372.26

139.99

370.28

164.60

430.56

165.92

Coir other sorts

57.02

57.83

50.50

19.03

55.04

28.53

Coir Yarn

8407.09

2666.90

5335.09

1925.92

6108.35

2461.21

Geo-textiles

3364.72

1444.65

3251.52

1591.05

3754.44

2023.77

Handloom Mats

40917.35

24299.85

35553.43

23537.53

36297.71

25428.01

Handloom Mattings

3013.71

1879.33

2368.45

1716.56

1832.24

1425.28

Powerloom Mats

75.06

52.69

54.21

40.06

2.84

2.03

Powerloom Mattings

115.82

88.30

87.52

85.09

2.41

3.04

Rubberised coir

1120.35

852.19

1222.59

1174.77

629.78

713.39

Tufted Mats

33950.35

19910.98

33689.27

22598.15

36991.21

25351.24 

 Total

187566.74

59288.08

199924.93

63997.43

294508.05

80405.22

                   OPPORTUNITIES / GROWTH PROSPECTS OF THE INDUSTRY

A significant prospect for coir is the growing global concern to address ecological problems through use of Bio-degradable & natural resources for environment protection. Coir nets or geo-textiles and bio-logs or fascines, two of the most important coir products today, have been proven to be effective materials in controlling steep and road slopes erosion and for riverbank protection in technologically advanced countries.

Geo-textiles are coir-based matting materials placed in sloping lands and embankments to hold soil and permit vegetative growth. It helps in erosion control and soil productivity conservation. Bio-logs or fascines are tubular structures of coir mats or nets filled with dust, peat or coir resembling large rolls or gabions. 

Locally, coir and its products have gained acceptance as alternative erosion control materials. A number of projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and by the private sector found geo-textiles more advantageous than other traditional materials such as concrete construction materials for erosion control specifically on the following concerns:

The over-all cost of coir as erosion control material was lesser by two-thirds. It is comparable in durability as long as the soil is well stabilized prior to its installation. And coir being eco-friendly and biodegradable, it promotes vegetation growth as it traps topsoil and keeps its nutrients intact.

Coir dust, meanwhile, has gained more attention from local gardeners and plant enthusiasts as they now use this material for organic compost and soil conditioner. The agriculture sector, therefore, is a big potential market for coir dust as organic fertilizer and as growing medium for the country’s vast agricultural lands and crops.

The use of coir for various industrial applications need to be explored. In July 2003 Consultation on Natural Fibers, FAO reports indicated that coir has a potential as a natural fiber composite for trucks and in automotive parts as roof liners, floor carpets, seat back trims, engine compartment insulation, package trays, luggage compartments, textile exterior, wheel arc liner, rear and side wall covers and driver cabin liner. Experiments showed that advantages of coir over other natural materials are its being low cost and light weight. Moreover, coir has properties suitable for acoustic insulation, has no abrasive wear, is non-skin irritant and ecologically friendly.

 Export of coir projects are projected to further grow by 1.2% per annum to 80,000 tons in 2012, while exports of fiber are expected to expand to about 123,000 tons.

 
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