Kerala targets doubling coir exports in 5 years

New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) Kerala, which supplies nearly 99 percent of India's finished coir products, hopes to more than double its exports to over Rs.2500 crore ($450 million) in five years from Rs.1,084 crore ($197 million) in 2011-12, Revenue and Coir Minister Adoor Prakash has said.

He said strong demand in Latin America and African countries would lead the growth in exports.

"We have registered impressive growth in exports in recent years. They increased from Rs.807 crore ($147 million) in 2010-11 to Rs.1,084 crore ($197 million) in 2011-12. Our target is to increase it to Rs.2,500 crore ($454 million) by 2016-17," Prakash told IANS in an interview.

Almost 40 percent of coir exported from Kerala goes to the United States. Demand is however stagnating in the US and Europe.

"The US and Europe will remain important markets, but major growth will come from Latin America and Africa," Prakash said.

"Our products are being used in almost all countries in the world. Last year we exported to 129 countries. Everywhere the demand is likely to grow," he said.

Coir, a natural fibre extracted from the husk of coconut, touches almost every facet of human life - from doormats to rugs, brushes, coir mattresses, tufted carpets, garden articles and wood substitutes to geo-textiles.

Coir fibres are found between the hard internal shell and the outer coat of coconuts.

Prakash said the state government had been laying emphasis on development of new products. It had set up the National Coir Research and Management Institute (NCRMI) to encourage research and development in the industry.

"Our target is to develop a new product almost every month. This will help further popularise the use of coir and boost exports," said Anil K.R., director of Thiruvananthapuram-based NCRMI.

He said the government has taken the initiative to explore the potential of using coir in new areas like acoustics, interior decoration and the fashion industry.

The institute has already developed a number of new applications for coir, using coir logs to prevent erosion of river banks and coir mattresses with therapeutic uses.

Prakash said the state government would target to double domestic supply of coir also.

"Our target is to increase the revenue from domestic sales to Rs.5,000 crore ($909 million) in the next five years from Rs.2,500 crore ($454 million) in the last financial year," he said.

The state government is also organising a six-day Coir Kerala 2013 from Feb 1 to popularise the use of coir products in India and overseas markets. The third edition of the annual event will be held at Alappuzha, some 250 km from here.

Prakash, who was in the national capital to promote the event, said businesspersons and entrepreneurs from 60 countries are likely to attend this year's event.

"We are expecting export orders of nearly Rs.200 crore ($36 million) during this year's event" he said.

Last year's event saw the participation of 35 countries and export orders of $18 million were generated.

(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be contacted at gyanendra.k@ians.in)

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