The leather sector will have to focus increasingly on reducing pollution and design innovation to move ahead in the international market, experts at the 44th Leather Research Industry Get-together (LERIG) have said.

Inaugurating the two-day event, V. Prakash, Director, Central Food Technological Research Institute, urged leather industry stakeholders to be conscious of the correlation between climate change, food security and the leather sector. Dr. Prakash pointed out that a 1 per cent rise in temperature could set off tropical diseases that were as much a threat to livestock as to humans. Habib Hussain, chairman, Council for Leather Exports, said greening of the leather industry could be an effective positioning strategy for Indian in the global marketplace.

He sought sustained CLRI assistance to the leather industry to overcome increased protectionism and technical trade barriers in some overseas markets.

The research body also had an important role to play in developing innovative product design and product engineering.

G. Thyagarajan, former Director of CLRI, called for efforts to achieve technological parity for the leather industry in relation with other technology-driven sectors.

He mooted a CLRI-led joint industrial task force to evolve radical solutions to problems in the leather industry.K.V. Raghavan, Chairman, Research Council, CLRI, urged India to take a leadership role in transfer of science and technology in the leather sector to developing countries.

M. Rafeeque Ahmed, president, All India Skin and Hide Tanners Merchants Association (AISHTMA), said the leather sector had shown signs of coming back strongly.

Taj Alam, director, Kings International, said the CLRI support was critical in making what was once a household sector to an industry that was a vital earner of foreign exchange. A. B. Mandal, CLRI Director, presented the recent research highlights at CLRI. MODEUROP and Design Awards were distributed.