Poor demand, lack of financial support sound death knell to the units

The coir manufacturing industry, which was once a flourishing trade in Perambalur district, is now in hard times. Perambalur district has been a major coir manufacturing centre in the State. A large number of people were employed in the coir manufacturing units located on both sides of the Tiruchi road in Perambalur town till a few decades ago.

A small capital investment was enough for setting up coir manufacturing unit and this was one of the main reasons for the mushrooming of these units in this industrially-backward district. The units offered employment opportunities for many. The manufacture of coir from coconut husk is a simple process. Coconut husk fetched from Kerala is converted into fibre with the help of a machine by adopting defibering technique. The fibre is used as the raw material to manufacture coir. Since curling of coir requires a considerable space the units are set up on roadsides. Many families were involved in the trade for long, and each hut was a mini industrial unit. However, the families and the associated labour force have now vanished from the scene due to various reasons. While the advent of nylon ropes hit them hard, lack of financial support from banking institutions pushed them into oblivion. Traditionally, coir ropes were used for fetching water from well, irrigation activities, construction works, digging of open wells, tying the cattle, and as packing material. Sixty-year-old Mathesh is one of the very few who are still in the business. His grandparents migrated from Salem decades ago and started a small unit which Mathesh continues to run. “At one time, ours was a thriving industry and we employed about 30 people,” he says with a grim face.

A large number of people from neighbouring districts use to visit our unit to place orders, and to see how it is being produced , Mathesh reminisces the days gone by.

It was the advent of nylon rope which sounded the death knell for the industry . Due to poor demand and financial crunch, Mathesh has almost stopped manufacturing coir. However, he continues to trade in coir by procuring it from Salem and marketing it here.

Mathesh feels that government should take steps for creating awareness among people on the environment-friendly nature of coir products. “I still have my old machine used for making coir. If government or banks come forward to provide loan, I will revive coir making, he says with lot of hope.