By The Manila Times
NATURAL fibers ease the pain of poverty.
In many developing countries, proceeds from the sale and export of natural fibers contribute significantly to the income and the food security of poor farmers and those working in fiber processing and marketing.
Worldwide, some 30 million tons of natural fibers are produced annually. But they have lost market share to synthetic fibers.
The International Year of Natural Fibers raises the profile of these fibers and emphasizes their value to consumers while helping to sustain farmers’ income.
Abaca, once a favored source of rope, is known as Manila hemp. It shows promise as an energy-saving replacement for glass fibers in automobiles and is now pulped and processed into tea bags, casing for sausages, banknotes, cigarette papers and high-quality writing paper.
Coir, a coarse, short fiber extracted from the outer shell of coconuts, is found in ropes, mattresses, brushes, geotextiles and automobile seats.
Globally, around 500,000 tons of coir is produced every year, mainly in India and Sri Lanka. The value of coir production has been put at around US$100 million annually. India and Sri Lanka are the main exporters of coir, followed by Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.