Natural Fibres in India
India has large resources of natural fibres such as Banana, Khus, Sisal, Korai grass, Talipot, Palm leaf, Coconut, Pineapple, Screwpine, Golden grass, Jute and Sabai among others. In the past, trade of the village folk depended on harvesting fibres grown in their villages. They spun or twisted yarn into ropes and sold them in villages or town markets. However with time, emphasis was shifted to cotton and then during the post independent era, silk and jute became the new wonder fibres. This caused other natural fibers to be driven out of the market and drop in the Indian commercial mindscape.
Rural artisans that continued in this unorganized sector converted these fibres into finished products like bags, tablemats, cushion covers, hats, floor coverings, etc. This provided employment to the rural poor, especially those that belonged to the underprivileged class. However, being unorganized, it has not got the desired focus for development & investment. In addition, the cost of the fibre extraction and processing far exceeds the cost of imported raw material, as all these activities are done manually. Finished products suffer due to lack of technology when faced with competition from international markets in terms of quality, price, production capacity, time schedule and consistency.
The National Institute of Design conducted a survey of the southern states and identified the enormous potential the country has in natural fibre production. The report concluded that the resources have not been fully tapped by the Handicrafts sector and only few NGO’s in southern, Central, Eastern & North Eastern states of India are working in this field. The total value of global exports of India in coir (raw fibre and manufactured products) in 2003 was estimated at $US 67.08 million and US$19.25 million in Jute in the year 2003.
In the past decade Industree has partnered with producer groups all over the country, using silky fabric yarn to roadside weed and toddy palm to create objects of daily use with a modern edge. Industree mainly works with Banana, Palm leaf, Sisal, Bamboo, Korai grass, Screwpine and Water Hyacinth fibres. Natural fibre products include floor mats, carpets, furniture, boxes, bags, trays, office accessories, personal, kitchen accessories, bins, laundry bins, blinds, cushions, cushion covers, cd boxes to name a few.