Rs 1.6K cr coir upgrade on cards

Written by Commodities Bureau | Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 26 | Updated: Sep 27 2007, 06:21am hrs
For the first time, the Planning Commission has turned the spotlight on coir by charting a modernisation and technology upgradation for the industry from Plan funds.

The fibre has notched up a Rs 1,654-crore part-subsidised rejuvenation project that is likely to create 1.8 lakh additional jobs during the Eleventh Plan period.

The ministry of commerce has cleared the project. As much as Rs 25 crore has been set aside in the Union Budget for 2007-2008, Coir Board chairman AC Jose has said.

Out of the Rs 1,654-crore project, as much as Rs 548 crore is the Central grant component. Coir Board is in talks with bankers for facilitating term loans to the tune of Rs 886.50 crore at concessional terms. The project targets to attract Rs 1,600-crore new investment over a five-year period.

Coir Board had announced international buyer-seller meet from December 7 to 11 in Kochi. The Centre has cleared Rs 1.25 crore for this trade fair. Emerging export value-additions in showcase are coir composites (to substitute plywoods), coir pith (for bio-manure and horticulture-medium) and coir geotextiles. Antiquated rets and machines in the Alapuzha coir industry hub, which made Union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh say 21st Century is yet to arrive! are on the way out.

These stayed on too long, since machinery upgradation was misunderstood as labour-displacing. Now, nearly all micro-units are receptive to state-of-the-art mechanisation, provided fund-support is ready, the chairman said. Women workers now take the drudgery of coir-making processes. Coir Board has developed two new looms Anugraha and Anupama to take drudgery out of production.