A Rs.4.9-crore package proposed by Kerala State Cooperative Coir Marketing Federation Ltd. (Coirfed) to revive the once-thriving coir industry of Malabar may be a case of too little too late.

In Kozhikode alone, coir yarn worth Rs.4 crore is rotting in the godowns of Coirfed, the apex body of coir cooperative societies in the State charged with the task of marketing the produce.

Again, Rs.1.5 crore worth of yarn is decaying at the various godowns of primary coir societies in the district. In many of the 54 societies in Kozhikode, the yarn has been lying piled up over the past one year. That when the maximum life of yarn is six months to a year. All this data about the dire situation of the coir industry in Malabar were revealed in a phone interview with K.M. Muhammed Anil, Managing Director, Coirfed.

Mr. Anil had had a detailed meeting with officials, cooperative societies and other stakeholders in Kozhikode on Tuesday.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Anil said “diversification, value-addition and better fibre quality” were the three essentials necessary for the continued survival of the coir industry in Malabar.

He said the dip in sales started in Kozhikode when the industry started moving away from the traditional methods, especially retting.

“There is no market for raw fibre. Hand-spinning changed to machine spinning. But the same product is available from Tamil Nadu where the labour is cheap and there is a lot of raw material,” he said.

He said the “crisis” in Malabar had reached such a stage that one of the three parties involved – the government, Coirfed and primary societies – was bound to suffer a loss.

“But for Coirfed and the primary societies, any further loss would cause a major dent in their continued survival. It is up to the government to take the initiative and help the traditional industry in Malabar,” Mr. Anil said. The revival project, he said, was meant to re-design the coir industry in the region.

“Most of the loss-making is due to raw fibre material wastage. We are now looking at zero wastage, whereby 100 percent of the fibre is used in products such as mulch mats. We are also planning nodal centres for coir industry with an eye on zero wastage in Kozhikode, Ponnani, and Thrissur.

He said training would be given to primary societies under the package to produce coir geo textiles and they would be furnished with state-of-the-art spinning equipment.

“At the same time, most importantly, we want to retain the expertise of the hand-spin workers. This way both mechanisation and hand-spinning will go hand-in-hand,” Mr. Anil said.

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