Coir geotextiles is a woven net material made of coconut husk.
Coir business is readying to pep up the price-competitiveness of its biggest cash-cow coir geotextiles, by switching to the use of brown fibre and stepping up automation. Gradually moving away from traditional products like coir mats, the industry will also soon sport a diversified basket of products, including needle punched fabric, mulching sheet, coir composite, binder-less board and coir acoustic material, according to the stakeholders at the International Expo Coir Kerala 2019.
Coir geotextiles is a woven net material made of coconut husk. It is increasingly used in bulk to check soil erosion, road-building and renovation of water bodies and landfills. Although geotextiles account for lion’s share of the country’s Rs 2,728-crore coir exports, the share of coir geotextiles in the Rs 1,200 crore domestic geotextile market is less than 40%.
“By utilising brown fibre and automating good many of the processes, the coir geotextiles can be made market-ready at half of the present production cost. Geotextiles made of synthetic fibres are currently ruling the market, mainly because of their relatively low cost. Lowering the price, along with diversification of the product portfolio would pay high dividends for coir firms,” said KR Anil, director, NCRMI ( National Coir Research and Management Institute).
For Kerala, the country’s coir capital as the state that tops in coconut production, the coir geotextiles sales target for next fiscal is Rs 1,000 crore. This is 90% of the domestic geotextiles market. With growing utilisation in road construction, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari has demanded production of 40,000 tonne of coir geotextiles annually. To meet this ambitious production target, a collective rallying of coconut-producing southern states is in the pipeline.
“The key takehome from coir sector is that it has stopped moaning in a sunset industry identity. The profile has changed to a sunrise industry of opportunity, thanks to technology infusion, innovation, entrepreneurship and diversified slew of products,” said TM Thomas Isaac, Kerala minister for finance and coir.
Coir factories are soon going into a co-branding partnership with furniture players. Besides, geotextiles, coir products readying for export market, are needle punched fabric, mulching sheet, coir composite, binderless board and coir acoustic material. Western India Plywoods is soon setting up a pilot plant in Kannur for coir composites. Retail giants like Reliance and Shopper’s Stop are in parleys for the coir products.
“To harness technology skills in production of coir geotextiles, NCRMI will soon open six-month courses in geotextiles for B Tech graduates. Once they are trained, they would be initiated to a package as a service-providing technopreneur. This would make the coir geotextiles, cost-efficient in the coming days,” said KR Anil.