KOCHI: The Coir Board has urged the Centre to allow duty free imports of 20,000 tonne of coir fibre from Sri Lanka in a bid to tide over its shortage. According to a senior Coir Board official, the country produced around 13,000 million coconut husks a year. Yet, there is a shortage of fibre as the industry is able to use only 35 per cent of these husks.
The fibre production (both white and brown) in the country is estimated at 3.75 lakh tonne. "Lack of an effective husk collection mechanism and consequent inadequate raw material availability is the main bane of the industry affecting its development," he said. In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, coconut husk was extensively used as fuel by the brick industry and sugar mills, he said. Meanwhile, the husk available with the small holdings, are now wasted in the absence of an organised system for collection of husk and its mobilisation for being supplied to the industry.
The Board had taken initiatives to introduce a scheme for husk collection from the small-holdings and other sources engaging self-help groups, Coir Cooperatives and NGOs, he said. The scheme besides helping to alleviate the present scarcity of raw material would also result in engaging unemployed people in the rural sector, he said. Given this scenario, the Board of Directors of the Coir Board had recently recommended import of fibre from Sri Lanka.
However, according to industry sources, Sri Lanka is not in a position to supply "spinnable fibre". Fibre imported by the industry recently from the island nation was found to be unsuitable for spinning, they said. At the same time it was not available in other coconut producing countries also, they added.
July 24, 2004