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Non-availability, rising prices of match splints hurting Sivakasi units

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Call to raise new matchwood plantations in TN

FRAME FILLING of sticks at a cottage unit in Sivakasi.
FRAME FILLING of sticks at a cottage unit in Sivakasi.

Mohan Padmanabhan

Touchwood


About 80 per cent

of matchwood is now supplied by Kerala

The Kerala State

Match Splints & Veneers Manufacturers Association has asked for more remunerative prices for `matti'

Kolkata, Aug. 29

Sivakasi-Sathur based match units, both non-mechanised cottage and the semi-mechanised, are now grappling with the problem of non-availability and increasing prices of matchwood splints, which virtually control the production of safety matches.

The matches sector depends heavily on supplies of `white matti' splints from Kerala, which grows on trees in large plantations.

The Kerala State Match Splints & Veneers Manufacturers Association, in a recent circular to the All India Chamber of Match Industries, Sivakasi, has mooted more remunerative prices for `matti' to make the Kerala agriculturists plant more such trees.

Growers are diverting their lands to growing teak/rubber in view of the higher realisations, the circular said.Match manufacturers in Sivakasi and the surrounding areas feel that the current end product price of 50 paise (per box) left little scope for higher white `matti' prices.

It is feared that if matters such as end product price change to Re 1 are not addressed now, the match units in Tamil Nadu may be hit by a "matti famine", and the crisis could sound the death-knell of the entire matches industry in Sivakasi and the surrounding areas.

Raising fresh plantations

Enlightened sections of the matches sector feel that efforts should be mounted to raise fresh match wood plantations in Tamil Nadu to bridge the current demand-supply gap.

According to the consultancy project findings on the economics of growing `Ailanthus Excelsa', in the total supply chain, nearly 80 per cent of the matchwood is now supplied by Kerala and only 17 per cent by Tamil Nadu, which accounts for 95 per cent of the matches production (of around two billion match boxes per month) in the country.

Talking to

Business Line

in Sivakasi recently, Mr V.V. Rajan of Vasan Match Works, Gudiyatam, who is also the Secretary of the North Arcot District Small Scale Match Manufacturers Association, said there has been a steady depletion of match wood resources, and the problem can be tackled only by raising new matchwood plantations in Tamil Nadu.

A recent study Paper by the Forest College and Research Institute, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Mettupalayam, Coimbatore, on the economics of growing `yellow matti" trees in the region, has pointed out that if the full demand of the matches sector has to be met, at least 6,000 ha of plantations every year should be attempted in Tamil Nadu.

Mr Rajan, quoting the TNAU study, said for production of one bundle (of 600 boxes), 2 kg of wood is needed, and for making 2 to 2.5 lakh match bundles, nearly 4,000 tonnes of wood per month is required.

The current supply of match wood from Tamil Nadu ranges between 100 and 250 tonnes per month, and to fully feed the Tamil Nadu matches industry for producing one crore bundles per month, the requirement of match wood is said to be around 10,000-12,000 tonnes per month.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 30, 2006)
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