Coir Kerala has today made its way into an annual trade fair, facilitating not just buyer-seller interactions, but acting as a platform to showcase the newest products and latest technologies and machinery to drive up production and exports. The fourth edition of the worldâ€™s biggest trade event on coir and natural fibers will begin in Keralaâ€™s Alappuzha town on Saturday.
Defense Minister AK Antony will open the five-day Coir Kerala 2014 at a ceremony presided over by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at EMS Stadium in Alappuzha, officials said. Around 160 foreign delegates from more than 46 countries and nearly 100 buyers from across India are expected to take part in the trade fair which targets export orders worth Rs 1.5 billion.
At Coir Kerala 2014, organized with the support of Indiaâ€™s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, there will be 250 exhibition stalls across the national and the international pavilion showcasing a range of fiber products and the increasing product diversity in the industry.
Some of the newly developed products include a collection of handicrafts and souvenirs, sound-absorbing materials designed for architecture and interior designing and environment-friendly coir geo-cells that prevent slope erosion and enable slope land cultivation at a time.
Also showcased at the fair will be new machinery and technologies designed to improve productivity in the sector. Among them a pneumatic loom for weaving geo-textiles and a revolutionary new defibering mill and developed by the National Coir Research and Management Institute (NCRMI), the coordinating agency for Coir Kerala 2014.
While production and exports have seen a definite increase, the primary focus continues to be improving the lives of the workers in the coir industry and to create more employment in this sector, Revenue and Coir Minister Adoor Prakash said.
The defibering mill developed by NCRMI at its research and development facility here is designed to address the crippling shortage of raw material faced by the industry today. Fiber scarcity will be the discussion point with a series of seminars organized to help develop solutions.
For the first time, a committee consisting of exporters, policymakers and subject experts is being constituted to see how the recommendations at these seminars and workshops can be put to practical use to aid product diversification, said Rani George, secretary of Coir.
She said her department is in talks with the Coconut Development Board to create a mechanism where farmersâ€™ societies from whom the board procures coconuts are able to supply coir fiber. The husk usually goes waste for them, they are looking to see if they can supply them with de-fibering machines to these farmersâ€™ societies and buy back processed fiber and pith from them.
The Coir Department has been already been actively taking steps to address the crippling raw materials shortage that the coir industry in Kerala today faces.
Between November 2013 and January 2014 the government procured 14,000 quintals of coir fiber and distributed them through Coirfed to coir cooperatives at the standard rate of Rs20/kg of raw fiber at a time when the market prices had soared to between Rs26 and Rs28.
After being sidelined for decades by plastics and other synthetic material, coir and natural fiber are making a comeback thanks to the growing desire the world over for sustainable living and increased focus on R&D to add value and find new uses for these natural products.
The international event will also brings together scientists, researchers and policymakers to discuss strategies and new projects to create jobs, improve the conditions of workers, increase productivity and earnings across the industry.
The key Buyer-Seller meet enabling one-to-one interactions will be held on February 3 and on the final day of the event on February 5, Shri Adoor Prakash will interact directly with coir workers at a morning session expected to draw more than 2,000 people.
Cultural and entertainment programs, which have proven to be major crowd-pullers, will be held on all five days of the event.
In 2012-13, total coir exports from India were worth around Rs11.66 billion, up from Rs10.52 billion registered the previous year, and 70 percent of them were Keralaâ€™s contribution.
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