T.M. Natural Resource Research and Development

T.M. Natural Resource Research and Development

Centre, Kulathur P.O., Thiruvananthapuram,

Kerala State – 695583.

Society Registered under the Travancore – Cochin – Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act XII of 1955 on 28th April, 1982. The Society is also Registered under Income Tax exemption and FCRA of Govt. of India. To promote advancement, dissemination, application, training, research and development in the field of Agriculture forestry, Animal husbandry, Fisheries, Conservation of natural Resources, Environmental protection, Transfer of Technology, Training and extension services, Human Resource Development in urban and rural areas, innovation in Agriculture and traditional industry with Prof. V.L. Chopra, former Director General, ICAR and Secretary to Govt. of India, Dr. J.S. Kanwar, former Deputy Director General (Emeritus), ICRISAT as Patrons and Senior Scientists in the field of Agriculture as advisors. Dr. C.J. Thampi as President of TMNRRDC. Commenced functioning. TMNRRDC was a member of ICAR Regional Committee VIII (1999), ICAR R&D committee on Coir and R&D, on Soil Conservation Society of India, etc. The society successfully implemented consultancy projects of different Ministries of Govt. of India and other social and welfare activities. Recently successfully completed National Agricultural Innovation Project as Co-Consortium Project investigator (CCPI), ICAR (2013). Contribution for the Development of coconut palm and palm based Bio-industries. Food and coconut fibre / coir industry.

The Society carried out :

1. Consultancy work for Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment, Department of Wasteland Development and Ministry of Environment and Forest.

2. National Agricultural Innovation Project of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Co-Consortium Project Investigator of the Project “A value chain for coconut fibre and its products : Manufacture of diversified products of higher value and better marketability to enhance the economic returns of farmers”.

ICAR's entry to coconut fibre R& D.

Consequent upon the presentation by Sri. Thampi, Member Regional Committee VIII on the neglect of coir industry by ICAR and Govt. of India, Dr. R.S. Paroda, Director General, ICAR & Chairman, Regional Committee Constituted the Committee to assess the status of R&D on coconut fibre (vide ICAR F. No. 17-9/99-AE dated 29th Oct., 1999). As per the Committee’s decision ICAR Institutes: Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology, Mumbai and National Institute for Research on Jute and Allied Fibre Technology, Kolkata initiated study on coconut fibre from selected coconut palms supplied by TMNRRDC. No funds are available with ICAR for coconut fibre R&D for the simple reason coconut fibre is not in the agenda of ICAR R&D programme. At the instance of Dr. C.J. Thampi, Smt. K.R. Gauri Amma, Hon. Minister for Coir & Agri. Govt. of Kerala sanctioned two projects for the above ICAR Institutes. The studies brought out information on high potential of coconut fibre and knowledge gaps even at the basic level of information on coconut fibre. But ICAR did not continue the work for want of funds for R&D on coconut fibre. At the instance of Dr. Thampi, ICAR again sanctioned one “Value chain project on coconut fibre” under National Agricultural Innovation Project in 2009. This consortium mode project under NIRJAFT (ICAR) including TMNRRDC and others concluded with some important contribution in respect of coir industry and coconut fibre. Initial activity of Coir Industry is “collection of husk” when harvested by the farmer. Variety of coconut palm or quality and quantity of fibre in the husk or even the husk quality is not considered. Coconut palm hitherto considered as oil / horticultural crop is redefined as a Bio-industrial crop. Coir Industry never recognized it as a “coconut fibre industry” and attempted coconut palm variety wise grading or segregation of different coconut fibre grades within the coconut husk (mesoderm of coconut fruit).

HOLISTIC VERSUS PARTIAL STUDY OF COCONUT PALM

At present, for collection of seed nut, quality of husk not considered. Seed nut selection must take care of quality husk and NUT if two bio-industries are to be developed on sustainable basis. The innovative study call for holistic study of coconut palm / coconut fruit for two bio industries NUT (endoderm of coconut fruit) for food industries and HUSK (mesoderm of coconut fruit) for fibre industries. Coir (yarn) hitherto used as synonym for yarn, coconut fibre and even for coconut palm (FAO of UN) is redefined as “Coir is a product of coconut fibre” and “coconut fibre” is extracted from coconut husk of coconut fruit harvested from coconut palm. Composite fabrics were prepared with coconut fibre and others with jute, cotton and synthetic yarn. Chemical fibre softening, high speed weaving machine (NIRJAFT) and fibre segregation machine by CIRCOT were newly made.

The first column showing the plants that produce natural fibre. Instead of 'coconut palm' that produces coconut fibre the word coir is shown under the column plants indicating 'coir' is synonym to coconut palm.

What is Coir?

Coir (yarn / rope) is a product of “Coconut fibre” extracted from coconut husk (mesoderm) of coconut fruit harvested from coconut palm. This product is coarse, uneven and of low value.

For any natural fibre, quality and quantity of fibre depends on the variety of the crop. Variety wise grading system is pre-request for all natural fibres viz. cotton, jute etc. for ensuring proper specification and diversified high value products and production of even yarn.

What is Coconut Fibre?

Coconut fibre is a fruit fibre extracted from the outer husk (mesoderm) of coconut fruit harvested from coconut palm. Quality and quantity of coconut fibre varies with variety of palm and each husk consists of different grades of fibre - fine, medium and coarse. Coconut fibre is the basic raw material of the Coir Industry and not the coconut husk (mesoderm)

Since inception of coconut palm cultivation it is classified under oil / horticulture crop and hence the quality of husk which produces the fibre was not considered in the selection of mother palm and seed nut collection for propagation of coconut palm. This neglect of quality of coconut husk deteriorated the quality of husk and in turn quantity and quality of coconut fibre. Under NAIP-2, identified a new variety 2 F coconut palm (suitable for food and fibre) in association with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and a protocol was developed. Dr. Anil Kumar Singh, Deputy Director General (NRM), ICAR in his foreword to the protocol on 13-8-2012 recommended this new variety for establishing coconut palm based bio-industrial watershed for sustainability of the watershed system. Coconut seedlings of dual benefit Food and Fibre industries are produced and distributed. Coir Industry never recognized it as a “Coconut Fibre Industry”.

A new variety of Coconut Palm “2 F Coconut Palm” (1st F for Food and 2nd F for Fibre) suitable for two bio-industries viz. Food and Fibre was identified. NAIP-2 (TMNRRDC) and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore developed Protocol for 2 F Coconut Palm. Dr. Subian, Ph.D. Vice Chancellor (Act) about the Protocol recorded on 13-8-2012 “The present most valuable innovation not only opens up new horizons for the development of many bio-industries based on NUT but also for fibre extracted from coconut husk (mesoderm of coconut fruit). Further it paves the way for the sustainability of the priority development activity of the country “National Watershed Programme” to coconut based Bio-Industrial Watershed. The protocol was released. The publication also recommends importance of following agro-ecological regions for better suitable crop performance and mitigate harmful effect of climate change.

Mr. D. Hallam, Director, Trade and Market Division, FAO of UN fully endorsed need for differentiation of the word “COIR” and “COCONUT FIBRE” reads “I note with interest your comments on the proceedings of the symposium, in particular the need to differentiate between coconut fibre which the fruit fibre produced from coconut palm and coir which is produced from coconut fibre” in his letter dated 27th June, 2012 to Dr. C.J. Thampi, TMNRRDC, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.

Letter from Dr. Clayton Campanhola, Director, Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO of UN dated 3rd January, 2013 addressed to Dr. C.J. Thampi, TMNRRDC, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala State reads “I would like to thank you for the very interesting update you provided on the ongoing programmes being implemented in India. I also appreciate that you have shared with us your considerations on the need to approach coconut palm R&D in a holistic manner. Indeed, we fully agree on the importance of R&D to increase the output (quantity and quality) of both food and fibre portions of the harvested commodity and thus improve the livelihoods of coconut value chain actors, especially the coconut farmers”.

“Coir Industry” is the only industry, perhaps among all other industries, do not consider the basic raw (coconut fibre) material availability in quality and quantity at affordable cost whenever required. This is vital for the very existence of the coir industry and other industries as well. “Coir Industry” is dwindling in all its activities year after year without any basic structural changes since inception. In brief the Coir Industry has been maintaining its traditional heritage character in every sphere of its activity. Technology and processes are also at the lowest level is maintained by the industry at the primary and middle sector activities of the Coir Industry.

Coconut Palm Sector – Coconut palm is grown since inception as an oil crop or horticultural crop by considering the quality of NUT (endoderm) mainly for oil. Coconut husk is not considered for selection of ‘mother palm’, seed nut collection for propagation since inception. The continued neglect in the selection and propagation of coconut palm without considering palm variety wise quality of fibre has taken us today to a situation where in the husk and in turn fibre quality and quantity have deteriorated. Today, there is shortage of raw material even in state (Kerala) which has largest extent of Coconut palm in India and Coir Industry was flourishing. Coconut fibre is imported from other States where coconut palm cultivation started recently. NAIP-2 identified 2 F Coconut Palm (1st F for Food and 2nd F for Fibre) need to be produced and propagated for sustainability of both the bio-industries.

TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR GENERAL (S & WM), ICAR, New Delhi in their Lr. No. 1(9)/2012-SWDF dated 04-01-2013 conveyed the approval of ICAR to the DIRECTOR, CENTRAL SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION RESEARCH AND TRAINING INSTITUTE, ICAR, Dehradun to follow the findings of NAIP-2 and recommendation of Dr. Anil Kumar Singh, Deputy Director General, ICAR regarding the bio-industrial coconut palm (2 F variety) to establish bio-industrial watersheds.

COCONUT DEVELOPMENT BOARD, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India endorsed the NAIP-2 finding to establish coconut based bio-industrial watersheds where potential. Coconut Producers Societies are functioning in Thiruvananthapuram vide their Lr. F. No. 1312/2013-Dev dated 25-7-2014.