Coir Pith Wealth from Waste

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Coir Pith Wealth from Waste

Introduction

Coir industry is one of the important cottage industries in India contributing significantly for creation of livelihood in major coconut growing states and Union territories i.e. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Orissa, Assam, Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry. Coir fibre is the raw material of the industry and during the extraction process coir pith is generated in large quantities as waste. In Kerala the coir industry exists since 1859 and coir fibre extraction was prevalent since then. Coir pith was dumped in the environment around the extraction units in the form of huge hillocks which occupies large land space making pollution problems. The export of coir fibre fetches a foreign exchange of over Rs. 200 crores per annum for India. It forms a major segment of village and small industries sector in terms of production and employment providing in rural areas to the economically weaker sections of the population.The coir sector provides employment to over five lakh households in Kerala alone, the majority being women engaged in the extraction and spinning of coir fibre to yarn.Since the coir sector development contributes to the sustainable development agenda and also creation of environment friendly products, its application for domestic use and
also in housing, building, agriculture and infrastructure development is significant. The world population is becoming more and more conscious about the need of preserving the nature and an increasing number of people are opting for environment friendly products. This is the opportune time to promote the case of coir to replace synthetic furnishings and certain wooden building materials.It is therefore extremely important that a major collective initiative has to be taken up to promote the cause of coir by identifying the thrust areas leading to a quantum jump in coir sector development. There is a need for better synergy in the coir activities by adopting to a two pronged strategy for the development of the coir industry in India. While in the state of Kerala, the strategy would be to sustain the existing workers and give them employment for more number of days and for other States, need to create additional employment opportunities to the coir workers by setting up of more units in the field of extraction of coir fibre, yarn and products.A wide range of coir and coir products are consumed in the country including the coir yarn, ropes, mats, mattings, rubberized coir products, mattresses, pillows, cushions, coir geo textiles, coir pith, rugs, carpets and curled coir.

Coconut Palm

The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family) and the only species of the genus Cocos.Coconut (Cocos nucifera) plays a significant role in the economy of India. Coconut popularly known as ‘Lakshmi Phal’ is the symbol of prosperity linked with religious andsocial activities in India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, irrespective of whether the palm is grown locally or not. The coconut is known to be a rich source of raw material for a variety of products. Its nut is the most versatile of all, with its kernel of oil being widely used  for edible purposes, manufacture of soaps, hair oil, cosmetics and other industrial products. The coconut husk is the raw material for the coir industry. The tender nut supplies coconut water, a popular thirst quencher of health and nutritive value.

Coconut Palm

Origin of Coconut

The origin of coconut palm is the subject of a great deal of controversy which once evoked the interest of a host             of botanists. The first recorded history of coconut in the country dates back to Ramayana period. In the Valmiki Ramayana there are references of coconut in the Kishkindha Kanda and Aranya Kanda. The importance of coconut “The tree of Heaven or  Kalpavriksha” can be appreciated when we consider its innumerable uses to mankind. The tree as well as its products have gone deep into our culture and have a record history of more than 4000 years.

Areas of Coconut Cultivation in World

Although coconut palms grow throughout the tropical regions, the vast majority of the commercially produced coir comes from India and Sri Lanka. In recent years,India has attained the top position amongst the coconut producing countries ie. About 26.1%. Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Philippines are the other major countries. In India, coconut is primarily a food crop, which produces about one-fourth of the world’s 53,598 million coconuts each year, and 15% of the husk fibers are actually recovered for use.Coconut husk is a ubiquitous commodity. The most important commercial utilization of husk is for the manufacture of coir. The coconut is embedded in the husk which forms 35 % to 65% of the weight of the whole fruit, when ripe .The seed of coconut is stripped off an external leathery skin and a 2- 3 inches (5-8cm) thick intermediate layer of fibrous pulp. The mesocarp is surrounded by a smooth outer skin, the exocarp . Fibers recovered from that pulp are called coir. The fibers range from sturdy bristles suitable for brush to filaments that can be spun into coarse, durable yarn. In India, which produces about one-fourth of the world’s 55 billion coconuts each year, only 15% of the husk is actually used for recovery of coir fibers. The Coir Board is the registered proprietor of Alleppey Coir as per G.I.54 of the Registrar of Geographical Indication. The most popular uses for coir are door mats, agricultural twine and geo textiles (blankets that are laid on bare soil to control erosion and promote the growth of protective ground covers) because of its durability, eventual biodegradability, ability to hold water and hairy texture. The very strong global markets for coir fibre products and the increasing utility of coir fiber in new products – such as mattress, geo textiles and products for the automotive industry – means that coir fibre processing is an abundant activity in coir producing  nations; the largest of which are India and Sri Lanka.

Coconut Growing States in India

Coconut cultivation and production of nuts is prevalent in the different states and union
Territories of India.