Despite exports of traditional items like rug, carpets and matting registering negative growth for the past several months, the cumulative exports during the first four months of the current fiscal has recorded a nominal increase in volume and value of exports due to the sharp increase in exports of geotextiles. Coir fibre exports to China are also seen increasing rapidly and helping in keeping the sector alive.
According to figures provided by the Coir board, exports during April-July of 2009 shows an increase of 4.74% in volume and 5.25% in value when compared to the corresponding period of the last fiscal.
Exports during the month of July have fallen by almost 10% in value while recording a nominal increase in volume of 2% over the performance of June 2008. The notable exception has been the performance of coir geotextiles which has registered 28 % increase in volume and 10% increase in value.
Coir fibre exports, as has been in the recent past, have recorded an increase of 80% in volume and 50% in value in the month of July.
Coir board has been taking efforts to promote geotextiles in a big way considering the fact that FAO is observing 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibre. Coir board is expecting to increase coir products exports by another 10% in the current fiscal to achieve a turnover of Rs 700 crore, board sources said. Despite volume and value of coir exports suffering reversal in the last few months, the board is hopeful of achieving an increase exports as it sees a revival in the market for mats and matting.
The board is also looking to increase the domestic consumption of coir products. At present, the domestic market is worth Rs 1,500 crore, of which rubberized coir mattresses accounts for Rs 1,100 crore.
Meanwhile, the increasing trend in the export of coir fibre to China is causing worry to the traders, who fear that it may result in serious problems to the indigenous industry. Exports to China have already pushed up the prices of coir fibre to abnormal levels. It also has led to lesser availability of quality coir fibre in the domestic market, Chetan D Shah, secretary of the Cochin Coir Merchants Association said.