As coir gains strength, Kerala targets Rs.7,500 cr in total sales over five years

Written by MSaritaVarma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Jan 24 2013, 06:55am hrs
Despite a slowdown in demand at coir export counters in Europe and the US, Kerala, which accounts for 99% of India's finished coir products, targets to achieve total sales of R7,500 crore (including domestic and overseas) in five years.

The tipping point would be the innovative application of coir and coir-based products, KR Anil, director, National Coir Research and Management Institute, told FE. For instance, the use of coir as a sound-proofing material has never before been explored well in the international commercial space. Since societies in Europe and the US reflect high noise sensitivity in public spaces, the acoustical absorption properties of coir have found sudden value in environment-friendly construction.

The Netherlands government uses fibrous coir as an acoustical absorbtion surface in sports arenas and highways. Following suit, other European nations have also evinced interest in testing the new-found use of coir. These light-weight, modular walls offer sound insulation of up to 35 decibels, which green builders find useful.

Coir Kerala, an annual fair and the world's biggest trade event on coir and natural fibre products, will be held in Alappuzha during February 1-6. Although the event had forecast R1,500 crore in exports in 2011-2012, coir exports netted only about R1,084 crore. However, the silver lining is that there was still some progress over last year's exports. By 2016-2017, Coir Kerala targets exports of R2,500 crore.

There is a sea change from the traditional coir application in doormats, carpets and ropes to outdoors, which would also use vast quantities, says Adoor Prakash, Kerala coir minister. Coir geotextiles, which prevent soil erosion and land slides, are gaining currency in the West. Crucial approach roads of airports and bridges can also be protected by covering both sides with coir geotextiles, says Prakash.

Besides exports growth, Coir Kerala spurs domestic sales too. According to Prakash, revenues from domestic sales of coir are expected to double to R5,000 crore in the next five years.

Commercial houses and entrepreneurs from 60 countries are slated to participate in the third edition of Coir Kerala.