21st April 2011, www.dailynews.lk, By Ramani Kangaraarachchi
Raw fibre exports has increased sharply in 2009 due to the increased demand mainly from China.
Export Development Board (EDB) Assistant Director Export W K Amarasinghe told Daily News Business that Sri Lanka has exported 144,000 metric tonnes of raw fibre to the value of USD 40,000 in 2009.
This is an increase of nearly three fold compared with the quantity exported in the year 2000 which was 50,000 metric tonnes.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has earned USD 78 million worth of foreign exchange in 2009 from exported value added coir products which include more than ten items such as coir brushes, mattresses and geo mats.
However, Sri Lanka Coir and Alike Products Manufacturers Association President Lakshan Thilakaratne said exporters of value added fibre products have faced a problem due to the shortage of fibre to meet their requirement. The problem is severe this year compared to previous years as a result of the coconut shortage. When coconut prices go up artificially the cost of production goes up resulting an increase of selling price creating problems with clients," he said. These value added coir products are exported to Far East, Western and European countries.
The industry has the capacity to expand this sector while giving a large number of employment if sufficient stocks of fibre is available and it will give an income of several folds than from raw fibre exports.
At present more than 35,000 industrialists are involved in the coir manufacturing sector which is an informal sector.
Sri Lanka is the largest row fibre exporter in the world and the exporters have to pay an additional Cess to export raw fibre.