Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 6: Faced with keen competition in the global market, Coir Board is bracing up to boost its domestic sales by launching a clutch of major initiatives that aims to lend increased popularity to the use of the natural fibre at the national level.
It is as part of the idea that the statutory board has just embarked on a cross-country roadshow. The aim is to create awareness about various types of coir products, especially among people in North India, Coir Board Chairman, Mr G Balachandran, said today.
The three-month journey of the Coir Kranti Express, which was flagged off from Kanyakumari yesterday, displays varied coir products, including geo-textiles and handicrafts. It also features an audio-visual show and art exhibition that explain the history, current projects and future perspective of the Coir Board, he told a press conference here.
The Kerala leg of the Jammu-bound roadshow, which is slated to return to Kochi in the first week of February after crossing 17 states, was inaugurated earlier today by State Assembly Deputy Speaker Mr N Sakthan. Prof Balachandran presided over the ceremony, where Kerala Tourism Development Corporation Chairman Mr Vijayan Thomas received the first sale.
The roadshow express showcases coir products such as curtains, jackets, children’s frocks, bags, slippers and umbrella.
“We expect stronger market for our geo-textiles and manure from the coir pith besides Coir Wood, which is a substitute of wood from the fibre,” Prof Balachandran said.
The highlight of the roadshow will be its Delhi leg on November 25, coinciding with the World Coir Fair the Board is organising in the capital. The 1953-founded Board’s diamond jubilee celebrations will be inaugurated by President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee at Vigyan Bhawan. Union ministers A K Antony and P Chidambaram would also speak.
The November 14-30 fair will feature product sales, exhibition and seminars on coir at Pragati Maidan, Chetanalaya and Dilli Haat.
Prof Balachandran said India exported coir products worth Rs 1,116 crore in 2012-13. “Of this, Kerala contributed coir weighing 71,284 metric tonnes and money worth Rs 636.84 crore. Weight-wise it was 16.6% of the national figure, while the income share was 57%.”
Paradoxically, Kerala’s contribution to country’s coir exports has of late been sagging even as Indian figure on this has been rising in recent years. The state’s ethnic products such as woven coir carpets and mats and geo-textiles contribute only 24 per cent of the national exports, the chairman said.
Even so, diversification has boosted coir exports as the Board has succeeded in finding stronger market for manure from coir pith besides coir wood, which is a substitute of wood from the fibre, he added.
Coir Board, which functions under the Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, expects foreign trade worth Rs 250 crore out of the mega fair, he said.
On November 25, Vigyan Bhawan will play venue for a buyer-seller meet with the participation of coir importers and buying agents. Together with foreign importers, the event will have 100-odd delegates.
Besides, Coir Board will origanise international and national seminars on novel coir products with entrepreneurs and technical scholars as delegates for three days from November 25 at Chetanalaya. There will be a November 28 workshop on women empowerment in coir industry.
Further, Coir Board plans to open 1,000 sales showrooms across India. “We will install a coir production-distribution network; in fact, we have already recruited distributors in two regions,” he revealed. The new plan estimates additional Rs 100-crore sales for the Board.
The chairman said Coir Board has signed a pact with the Silk Board to manufacture jackets using a mix of coir and silk. Also, gifts are being made of coir wood, while coir pith, the fibre and polymer are giving way to production of injection-moulded furniture.
The ‘cut waste’ lying accumulated at Coir Board’s factories are being sought to be altered into gift material. To go further with its diversification measures, the Board wants the Government of Kerala to cooperate on procuring coconut husk.
The roadshow later proceeded to Kollam via Chirayinkeezh and Varkala. After criss-crossing central and north Kerala, the Express would enter Karnataka (Mangalore) in the night of November 11.