Coir pith has emerged as a major item of foreign exchange earnings in the export basket of the country over the last five years. It has accounted for 50 per cent of coir and coir product exports in the first half of the current fiscal.

P Mahadevan, Coir Board member representing exporters, told BusinessLine that the rise in exports of coir pith has emerged as a new trend in the last five years, both in volume and value.

Earlier, coir floor coverings, mattings and coir mats accounted for the lion’s share of the export shipments, he said.

According to the Coir Board, thanks to coir pith’s impressive shipments, coir and coir products exports increased ₹300 crore during the April-October period of the current fiscal at ₹1,662.43 crore compared with the same period a year ago.

During the first half of last year, exports totalled ₹1,361.45 crore.

This is a record for the first half of a fiscal. And this comes despite the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic during which a nationwide lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the virus.

The US and the Netherlands are the major buyers of coir pith from India. The pith is used for growing medians to fill garden pots and planting materials in these countries, he said.

The work-from-home (WFH) nature of the European/ US countries has led to the rise in exports of coir floor coverings and coir pith, the official added.

Coir pith contributed ₹835.26 crore to the total earnings from export of coir and coir products.

Coir fibre made up 18 per cent of the total export value, contributing ₹303.69 crore. Value-added items comprised 31 per cent of total exports. Tufted mats topped the value-added products, accounting for 20 per cent of the value.

During the first half the current fiscal, 5.43 lakh tonnes of coir and coir products were exported compared to 4.93 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.

The increase in value works out to 22.1 per cent and in terms of volume 10.1 per cent. Exports of all coir products other than curled coir, coir rugs and carpets increased.

The US was the largest buyer, importing 30 per cent in value terms and 17 per cent in quantity terms. China was the second-largest importer, buying 23 per cent in value and 37 per cent volume of coir and coir products. The Netherlands, the UK, South Korea, Spain, Australia, Italy, Germany and Canada imported substantial quantities.

According to officials, coir exporters are finding it hard to fulfil export orders due to lack of dry containers. Coir exports could touch a new record this fiscal.

Productiom of coir and coir products was 4.40 lakh tonnes in the first half of the current fiscal. Their consumption in the domestic market is also witnessing a rise.

Sales at Coir Board showrooms across the country totalled ₹6.92 crore.