India exported coir products worth Rs 2,281 crore last year, with the bulk of it coming for Kerala, the largest producer of coir in the country.
KOCHI: The Kerala government has chalked out a five-year, Rs 1,310-crore plan to bolster the state’s coir industry with private sector help.
State finance minister TM Thomas Isaac told ET that the plan, which will be implemented this fiscal, entails creation and promotion of ‘Kerala coir’ brand, setting up of a marketing company which will focus on both traditional and modern products in the domestic and world markets, and co-branding of coir. About Rs 484 crore will be earmarked for marketing alone.
A start has already been made at the just concluded annual coir Kerala exposition, which was organized by the state government at Alappuzha.
"The state coir department has signed a MoU with 700 panchayats in the state for Rs 125 crore for using coir-geotextiles for the conservation of soil and water," Isaac said. "We are also going to sign an agreement with Kannur-based Western India Plywood in the private sector for the production of coir composites, which can be a natural alternative..
Isaac said global furniture makers like Ikea would be happy to explore the potential of coir composite. Sound acoustics is another field where coir felt boards can provide an environmentally friendly alternative, he said.
Isaac, who is the chief architect of the strategy for revitalizing Kerala’s coir sector, while emphasizing on the need to mechanize the coir industry, said it would not lead to loss of jobs. “The traditional coir industry that involves coir, retting, manual spinning and handlooms will need to be branded and marketed distinctly," he said.
The minister also plans to seek the help of traditional workers for coconut husk procurement, for which Kerala is dependent on the neighbouring states.
One of the important planks of the new strategy will be to tone up the domestic market for coir products by revamping the existing marketing system. “Instead of state coir department directly running coir shops, it will be given to regional stockists. We plan to set up a retail chain for the products which can be showcased with other products of a particular region,” he said.
Isaac is also toying with the idea of using coir products for barter. "We are essentially a consumer state and buys pulses and grains from other states. Maybe we can think of a barter arrangement with coir." Making Alappuzha a coir tourism destination site with coir museums and heritage sites and co-branding and joint marketing initiatives with other products will also be explored. "For instance, joint marketing of rubber wood furniture with coir floor coverings," he said.