Bloom time: Karnataka eyes coir dividend

Bloom time: Karnataka eyes coir dividend

To accelerate the development of the coir industry in Karnataka, the Coir Board will open a chain of sub-centres across the state to disseminate various technological advancements and machinery developed by the board’s research institutes.

The sub-centres will also serve as procurement hubs for coconut husk from which coir yarn can be extracted to create a variety of value-added products.

The first sub-centre will be opened in Kolar on Saturday, followed by Mysore, Madikeri, Mangalore, Udupi, Chikmagalur, Hassan and Tumkur in the next few months, Union Minister of State for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises K H Muniyappa said on Friday.

Karnataka, which is slowly increasing its area under coconut cultivation to serve its increasing requirements for coir husk, is keen to capitalise on the huge export potential for coir and coir-based products, Muniyappa said. The state currently stands third behind Kerala and Tamil Nadu in coir fibre production with an estimated annual production of 53,400 million tonnes (MT).

According to Coir Board figures, Karnataka presently has 4,29,860 hectares under coconut cultivation with estimated annual nut production in the range of 3,056 million.

“The state’s fibre utilisation is presently low at 24 per cent, and we are targeting a utilisation rate of at least 60 per cent going ahead. In such a scenario, the employment opportunities opening up in the coir sector will be immense,” Muniyappa said.

The potential for production of coir fibre at 60 per cent utilisation of coconut husk available in the state would be 1,46,705 MT annually. Currently, coir fibre production is 53,400 MT with about 29,230 workers directly dependent on the industry.

With exports worth Rs 1,116 crore in 2012-13, India currently exports to 162 countries. China continues to be the largest importer of coir fibre from India, contributing 19.4 per cent in value and 33.8 per cent in quantity in the last fiscal. During the April-July period this year, India’s exports of coir and coir products maintained the trend by achieving Rs 392 crore in earnings.

Karnataka now sees huge scope for further increasing production of coir fibre and achieving the second position behind Kerala in fibre production. “We have seen Kerala’s share of coir fibre production falling to 50 per cent of India’s exports with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka gaining a bigger share of the export pie,” Muniyappa noted.

The Karnataka government is now pushing the SFURTI scheme, a cluster program tailored to small-scare coir processing industries, along with opening more sub-centres to develop the coir industry in the state. Under SFURTI, four clusters idenitifed last year have been allotted to Karnataka for intervention at Chennapatna, Hassan, Arasikere and Gubbi, Muniyappa said.

A project to manufacture rubberised foam mattresses using coir as a base material is currently being set up under the SFURTI cluster scheme, with the Coir Board receiving numerous proposals to establish industrial coir units in these clusters. Export-oriented units are also likely to set up operations in the upcoming coir clusters.

During the 12th Plan, 20 new coir clusters are proposed to be set up at an outlay of Rs 30 crore, Muniyappa said. “We are keen on 20-30 new clusters in Karnataka alone for each coconut growing district,” he said.

Coir yarn has applications in over 62 value-added products which include bags, polymer composite boards, handmade paper manufactured from coir pulp, coir wood and furniture, door mats, mattresses, ornaments and umbrellas.

A seminar on the development of the coir industry in the state will be held on the occasion of the opening of the Kolar sub-centre on Saturday. The Coir Board will showcase a low-cost electronic coir spinning system developed by it at the seminar.

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