sectoral outlook: coir Kerala

Kerala Assembly Elections | Coir industry awaits revival stimulus from government

There is a need to repair and carry out maintenance of the age-old machinery in the coir sector.  

Chandrababu, 54, from Puthanambalam, near Muhamma, in Alappuzha has been a traditional coir worker for the past several years. After the COVID-19 outbreak wreaked havoc, his life has turned topsy-turvy as he failed to get regular work, which in turn affected his earnings.

“I am an employee of a small unit making coir geotextiles. On an average, I get only three to four days of work per week, that too with a meagre salary. I don’t know when the situation will improve,” he says.

Although the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has made interventions and initiated several steps to revive the crisis-ridden coir industry, a lot more needs to be done to ensure the survival of the sector, which employs thousands of people in the State. “Whoever comes to power in the State after elections, it should ensure the welfare of the traditional coir workers by guaranteeing regular work and wages,” Mr. Chandrababu says.

Attention sought

M. Kumaraswamy Pillai, Director (Marketing) (retired), Coir Board, says the next government should focus on helping traditional workers and small-scale producers.

“Compared to the mechanised sector, a chunk of the workers is employed in the handloom sector (traditional sector). Although the coir industry is registering an overall growth between 10% and 15% every year, the traditional sector is on the decline. That should be a concern for the government. It should carry out a detailed study on how to rehabilitate and enhance the income of employees in the handloom sector along with making interventions to find a market for the products. The government should also consider introducing a minimum income support scheme with a subsidy for the traditional sector,” says Mr. Pillai.

Tech upgrade

Jospaul Mathew and Sajan B. Nair, chairman and secretary general respectively of the Federation of Indian Coir Exporters Associations (FICEA), say upgradation of technology and restructuring of wages by merging DA with the basic pay in tune with other traditional industries are the need of the hour.

“There is a need to repair and carry out maintenance of the age-old equipment/machinery in the handloom sector. Fully automated high productivity defibering machines and coir spinning machines should be installed to improve coir fibre and yarn production. Coir ply factories utilising waste coir fibre should be set up as a substitute to plywood,” they say.

The FICEA wants the next government to set up a coir commodity board with the participation of all stakeholders along with bringing payment of bonus under the Bonus Act and rules.

It suggests a new scheme for the technological upgradation of the industry by providing a financial subsidy of 25% up to a maximum of ₹2.5 crore on investment up to ₹10 crore.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 1:42:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/awaiting-revivalpush-from-govt/article34117246.ece

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