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Monday, September 25, 2023

Scale up value-addition of rubber and coir : D Kuppuramu


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Thiruvananthapuram: India should scale up value-addition of abundantly available regional resources like rubber and coir to tap the increasing domestic and international market for such products, Coir Board Chairman Kuppuramu has said.

Opening a session on ‘Regional Materials – Rubber and Coir Technologies’ at the CSIR- National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) here on Thursday, D Kuppuramu said as the second largest producer of coconut, India exports raw materials like coconut husk used in making coir products, but the country lags behind in promoting value-added products from coir.

The session, titled Raksha, was a key segment of the ongoing One Week One Lab (OWOL) programme, launched by the Government of India to showcase the achievements of the constituent laboratories of CSIR across the country.

Speaking about the potential of the coir sector, Kuppuramu noted that by playing a vital role in reducing heat, natural fibers like coir act as a primary solution to global warming.

Also, coir, as the best biodegradable alternative to plastic, helps the nation’s efforts to control plastic use. So, research institutes like CSIR-NIIST should work towards developing technologies that would strengthen the sector, he added.

Dr Sawar Dhanania, Chairman, Rubber Board urged to bolster value addition to rubber by encouraging more MSMEs and startups. Apart from ensuring a fair price for growers, cultivation, production, market, and supply chain in the rubber sector should be leveraged to provide further impetus to product development. Also, the R&D activities should focus on developing technologies for making rubberised coir products, he added.

Presiding over the session, Dr C Anandharamakrishnan, Director, CSIR-NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram, said by developing eco-friendly technologies, CSIR-NIIST envisages promoting value-addition of regional resources like rubber and coir.

Participating at a panel discussion on Rubber, Prof Santanu Chattopadhyay, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, noted that since rubber is a crop which could be grown in all regions irrespective of climate, its promotion could benefit farmers across the country besides providing plenty of opportunities to startups.

The other panellists included Dr K Rajkumar, Director, Indian Rubber Manufacturers Research Association, Thane; Dr R Lakshminarayanan, Deputy General Manager, HLL Lifecare Ltd, Thiruvananthapuram; Dr Siby Varghese, Joint Director, Rubber Research Institute of India, Kottayam, and Shri Rajesh V Chidambaran, Associate Manager, ARLANXEO India Pvt Ltd, Mumbai.

Chairing a session on Coir, Prof R Gnanamoorthy, IIT, Madras noted, as only 10% of rubber and coir products required for India are produced here, the country is hugely dependent on imports to meet the domestic requirements. He urged R&D institutions to play a key role in scaling up value-addition to these regional resources.

V Namasivayam, Member, Kerala State Planning Board, said the State has initiated plans to step up production of marketable products that could meet the industrial demand, thereby contributing to the nation’s revenue. Lack of labourers and high labour cost have drastically affected both sectors, he noted and wanted the agricultural and industrial sectors to jointly work with the government to improve labour efficiency and productivity.

Prof Kuruvila Joseph, Outstanding Professor and Dean, IIST, Thiruvananthapuram, said as the growth rate of the coir and rubber industry is facing a steady decline, there should be efforts to revive the sector by deploying new technologies that will help in finding new markets.

Dr Shanmugasundaram O L, Director RDTE(I/C), Central Coir Research Institute, Alappuzha; Dr Abhishek C, Senior Scientist, National Coir Research and Management Institute, Thiruvananthapuram; Shri Thirupuram Gopan, President, Neyyattinkara Coir Cluster Development Society, Thiruvananthapuram and Dr Vinay Kandelwal, R&D Lead, Applied Bioplastics India Pvt Ltd, Pune also spoke at the session.

Dr E Bhoje Gowd, Convener, Raksha, CSIR-NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram, welcomed the gathering while Dr KI Suresh, Senior Principal Scientist, MSTD, CSIR-NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram proposed a vote of thanks.

As part of OWOL, CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST), a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, is organising a series of high-profile seminars featuring top scientists, technocrats and administrators at its campus in Pappanamcode in the city from March 13-18.


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