The Coir Industry has been significantly Export-Oriented and a valuable foreign exchange earner. On an average about 20 per cent of the total Coir products manufactured are exported from the country, mainly to West European countries, United States of America (USA) and Canada. The products include fiber, yarn, mats, matting, rugs and carpets, rope and rubberized coir. Unfortunately, the exports in the recent past show a declining trend. Increased competition from other countries use of substitutes traditional methods of production delay in executing orders are some of the major reasons mentioned for reduced exports.
Because of this, the manufacturers have started to pay more attention to the internal market that was not fully exploited earlier. Efforts have been stepped up to popularize Coir products in India by various organizations both in Public and Private sectors and to penetrate to huge market that exists for floor covering and other applications. In the meantime, Coconut cultivation also got spread over in many regions other than the traditional areas like Tamil Nadu, in a significant way. Prominent among the states other than Tamil Nadu, which have promoted coir industry, are Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
The Coir Industry in Tamil Nadu presently provides direct employment to about 3.60 lakhs persons including those who are employed for part of the year. It is a fact that a good percentage of this is women engaged in the Spinning of Coir. The indirect employment is also very significant. The potential of this industry for up gradation and expansion is high and if taken advantage of this will have a significant impact on the coastal economy of the State. Recognizing this fact the Government introduced a number of regulations for sustaining the industry including those intended to improve the availability of husk for the industry at reasonable cost.
It is imperative that the Government of Tamil Nadu evolves strategies for research and development in this field and stimulates diversification and growth of the industry through co-ordinate activities among the functional Ministries concerned with Agriculture Industry and Infrastructure Development. An enlightened policy in this regard is very much required and there is no doubt that such a policy is bound to make a significant impact on the economy of the State.
The Coir Board is a statutory body established under the Coir Industry Act, 1953 for promoting the overall development of the coir industry and upliftment of the living conditions of workers engaged in this traditional industry. The Coir Board consists of a full-time Chairman and 39 members, as provided in Section 4 of the Coir Industry Act, 1953, representing all stakeholders in Coir Industry.
The Functions Of The Coir Board For The Development Of Coir Industry •Include undertaking Scientific, Technological and Economic Research and Development activities •Collection of Statistics relating to exports and internal consumption of Coir and Coir Products •Development of new products and designs
•Publicity for promotion of exports and internal sales
•Marketing of Coir and Coir products in India and abroad
•Prevention of unfair competition among organisations among producers of Husk, Coir Fibre, Coir Yarn and Manufacturers of Coir Products •Ensuring remunerative returns to Producers and Manufacturers, etc. About Coir Fibre
Coir is a versatile natural fibre extracted from mesocarp tissue, or husk of the coconut fruit Generally fibre is of golden color when cleaned after removing from coconut husk; and hence the name ” The Golden Fibre”. Coir is the fibrous husk of the coconut shell. Being tough and naturally resistant to seawater, the coir protects the fruit enough to survive months floating on ocean currents to be washed up on a sandy shore where it may sprout and grow into a tree, if it has enough fresh water, because all the other nutrients it needs have been carried along with the seed. These characteristics make the fibers quite useful in floor and outdoor mats, aquarium filters, cordage and rope, and garden mulch. Structure Of Coir Fibre
The individual fibre cells are narrow and hollow, with thick walls made of cellulose. They are pale when immature but later become hardened and yellowed as a layer of lignin, is deposited on their walls. Mature brown coir fibres contain more lignin and less cellulose than fibres such as flax and cotton and so are stronger but less flexible. They are made up of small threads, each less than 0.05 inch (1.3 mm) long and 10 to 20 micrometers in diameter. White fibre is smoother and finer, but also weaker. The coir fibre is relatively waterproof and is the only natural fibre resistant to damage by salt water.
Green coconuts, harvested after about six to twelve months on the plant, contain pliable white fibres. Brown fibre is obtained by harvesting fully mature coconuts when the nutritious layer surrounding the seed is ready to be processed into copra and desiccated coconut. The fibrous layer of the fruit is then separated from the hard shell (manually) by driving the fruit down onto a spike to split it (De-husking). Machines are now available which crush the whole fruit to give the loose fibres. Types Of Coir Fibre
The Fibrous husks are soaked in pits or in nets in a slow moving body of water to swell and soften the fibres. The long bristle fibres are separated from the shorter mattress fibres underneath the skin of the nut, a process known as wet-milling. The mattress fibres are sifted to remove dirt and other rubbish, dried and packed into bales. Some mattress fibre is allowed to retain more moisture so that it retains its elasticity for ‘twisted’ fibre production. The coir fibre is elastic enough to twist without breaking and it holds a curl as though permanently waved. Twisting is done by simply making a rope of the hank of fibre and twisting it using a machine or by hand. The longer bristle fibre is washed in clean water and then dried before being tied into bundles or hunks. It may then be cleaned and ‘hackled’ by steel combs to straighten the fibres and remove any shorter fibre pieces. Coir bristle fibre can also be bleached and dyed to obtain hanks of different colours.
The immature husks are suspended in a river or water-filled pit for up to ten months. During this time micro-organisms break down the plant tissues surrounding the fibres to loosen them – a process known as retting. Segments of the husk are then beaten by hand to separate out the long fibres, which are subsequently dried and cleaned. Cleaned fibre is ready for spinning into yarn using a simple one-handed system or a spinning wheel.
Uses Or Applications
Brown Coir is used in brushes, doormats, mattresses and sacking. A small amount is also made into twine. Pads of curled brown coir fibre, made by needle-felting (a machine technique that mats the fibres together) are shaped and cut to fill mattresses and for use in erosion control on river banks and hillsides. A major proportion of brown coir pads are sprayed with rubber latex which bonds the fibres together (rubberized coir) to be used as upholstery padding for the automobile industry in Europe. The material is also used for insulation and packaging. The major use of white coir is in rope manufacture. Mats of woven Coir Fibre are made from the finer grades of bristle and white fibre using hand or mechanical looms. Coir is recommended as substitute for milled peat moss because it is free of bacterial and fungal spores.
Some Coir Facts
Coir is a versatile natural fibre extracted from mesocarp tissue, or husk of the coconut fruit. The husk contains 20% to 30% fibre of varying length. After grinding the husk, the long fibres are removed and used for various industrial purposes, such as rope and mat making. The remaining material composed of short and medium length fibres as well as pith tissue is commonly referred to as waste-grade coir. The waste grade coir may be screened to remove part or all of the fibre and the remaining product are referred to as Coir Pith.