To increase exports from last years R1,116 crore through value-addition tie-ups, the Board has signed a slew of technology transfer agreements with other coir-producing countries.
Over 93 countries have coconut plantations, but only 10 of them, including India, take the initiative to produce coir. This is when the demand for natural fibre products is growing the world over, Balachandran told FE. The Coir Board chairman's mantle as the founder secretary-general of the newly formed Global Coir Forum is expected to back technology infusion to coconut and coir production.
The US and Europe together account for over 70% of Indias coir exports. Coir exporters are reporting growth in orders from the UAE and some African countries. In 2012-13, Indias coir and coir products exports grew 6 % year-on-year in value terms and 5% year-on-year in volume terms.
Technology would be the key driver of exports and the domestic market, as is evident by the sudden foray into a range of products, from coir-based fabric to experiments in power plants. The Coir Board has just signed an MoU with the Silk Board of India to develop blended fabric, mixing coir fibre with natural fibres such as sisal, jute and raw silk. This would be used mainly as curtains, screens and other interior furnishing material.
Coir Boards research and development wing has invented its new set of machinery, which has been aiding its new motto: modernisation, mechanisation, diversification and commercialisation. Under the new proposed technology tie-ups, many coconut-producing countries could buy these machinery to throw open new commercial opportunities.
For the first time, the feasibility study on a power plant using coir pith is also on. "We are in parleys with a Mumbai-based firm on setting up a 10-MW coir pith power plant in Thiruvanthapuram," says Balachandran.