Staff Reporter

Union Minister of State assures Coir Board all help

KOCHI: Union Minister of State for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises Dinsha J. Patel has assured the Coir Board that his Ministry would do everything to help develop the market for the labour intensive coir industry.

The Minister told Coir Board Chairman V. S. Vijayaraghavan, former MP, that the Ministry would help expand the coir market both within the country and in the export market.

The assurance came when the Coir Board chairman met the Minister after the latter assumed charge in New Delhi on Tuesday, said a statement from the Coir Board here.

Mr. Vijayaraghavan made a detailed presentation on the coir industry before the Union Minister.

The chairman elaborated on the scope of reaching the ambitious export target of Rs.1,000 crore by the end of the XI Plan (2007-12) from the present level of Rs. 634 crore. Target for the current year is Rs. 600 crore.

The board, he said, had drawn up an export strategy to create greater visibility for coir and coir products taking advantage of the declaration by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to observe 2009 as International Year of Natural Fibre.

The Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Central Coir Research Institute coinciding with the third edition of India International Coir Fair, coming up in Alappuzha later this year, would also be converted as an opportunities for greater exports of coir and coir products, he added.

The Coir Board Chairman also met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. He held discussions with the Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to seek their support in raising the financial outlay and market support from the ministries.

The Union Commerce Ministry had already issued a notification making it mandatory on the part of the Director General, Supplies and Disposals for purchase of all items of coir products, required by the Central government departments from Coir Board showrooms on the same line as Khadi and Village Industries Commission.

This was expected to give an impetus to the domestic demand for coir products, Mr. Vijayaraghavan said.

He also met Union Defence Minister A. K. Antony and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, to secure the cooperation of their respective ministries.

Coir-based cushions for railway coaches was one of the items on the agenda during the meeting with Ms. Banerjee.