National Coir Research and Management Institute (NCRMI) has made a breakthrough in the process of manufacturing coir pith from coir fibre, which could help realize the country’s coir export target of Rs 20,000 crore (in value) by 2020. Although the surge in the export-demand of coir pith has spearheaded India’s coir exports to Rs 2,300 crore in 2017-2018, the short supply in coir pith production had been a dampener.
“The new technique would usher production of organic manure through coir pith (coir peat) in just 25 days,” KR Anil, MD, NCRMI told FE. The Institute plans to have discussions with policymakers to conduct seminars and thrash out plans for improving the scope.
The growth strategy for coir pith production is significant since coir pith accounts for as much as 40% of India’s Rs 2,300 crore coir exports.
A rough thumb rule in the industry is that Rs 3,000 worth coconut fibre would yield coir pith worth Rs 2,000. India had exported 9,57,045 metric tonne of coir products worth Rs 2,281.65 crore to 115 countries during 2016-2017. Of these, European countries, Australia, US and Canada are on the look out for coir pith to arrange soil for hydroponics. Before the coir pith suddenly discovered its export edge, coir manufacturers had been saddled withe headache of disposing it. On the contrary,currently the coir units cannot produce it in a commercially optimum speed, to match the demand. From Rs 433 crore in 2014-15 and R688 crore in 2015-16, coir pith exports had climbed to Rs 906 crore in 2016-17, to emerge as the centre-piece of India’s coir export market.
“Its the ability of coir pith to hold water that makes it vital in farming. It’s also a key ingredient for organic manure,” says TM Thomas Isaac, Kerala finance minister, who’s done PhD dissertation on coir industry. After removing salt, the purified coir pith is used in grow bags. For this pith, transformed into coir blocks are used. Such is the demand for coir pith in the horticulture and agriculture units in Europe that a German firm has set up its subsidiary in Pollachi in Tamil Nadu to source this crucial input.
Tamil Nadu leads in coir pith production, while the share of coconut-cultivating Kerala is less than 10%. “The new technique to develop organic manure through coir pith from coconut husk could iron out processing hassles, pepping up India’s coir pith export,” KR Anil said.