Coir or Cocos - Nature's wonder fiber is extracted from the protective husk of the Coconut. This golden fibre is spun into a breath-taking range of textured yarn and woven into a spectrum of colourful floor coverings.
The coconut palm, has been eulogised as 'Kalpavriksha' the all giving tree in the classics of India. Its fruit is called Lakshmi Phal which is used in most of the social and religious functions in India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, irrespective of whether the palm is grown locally or not. The use of coconut through out India makes it a symbol of national unity and perhaps in the olden times the people of our country or our ancestors might have migrated from a coconut growing area. It is also possible that coconut had been cultivated in many parts of India and the climatic and geographical changes in due course might have caused the confinement of coconut to coastal tracts in the country.
The first recorded history of coconut in the country dates back to Ramayana period. In the Valmiki Ramayana there are references of coconut in the Kishkindha Kanda and Aranya Kanda. It is reported that Ramayana was written by Valmiki sometimes in 3rd century B.C. Generally it is believed that coconut was introduced in India during the post-vedic period.
Coir fibers are found between the husk and the outer shell of a coconut. The individual fiber cells are narrow and hollow, with thick walls made of cellulose. They are pale when immature but later become hardened and yellowed as a layer of lignin is deposited on their walls. There are two varieties of coir. Brown coir is harvested from fully ripened coconuts. It is thick, strong and has high abrasion resistance. It is typically used in mats, brushes and sacking. Mature brown coir fibers contain more lignin and less cellulose than fibers such as flax and cotton and so are stronger but less flexible. They are made up of small threads, each about 1 mm long and 10 to 20 micrometres in diameter. White coir fibers are harvested from the coconuts before they are ripe. These fibers are white or light brown in color and are smoother and finer, but also weaker. They are generally spun to make yarn that is used in mats or rope.
The coir fiber is relatively water-proof and is one of the few natural fibers resistant to damage by salt water. Fresh water is used to process brown coir, while sea water and fresh water are both used in the production of white coir.
Coconuts are the seed of the palm trees. These palms flower on a monthly basis and the fruit takes 1 year to ripen. A typical palm tree has fruit in every stage of maturity. A mature tree can produce 50–100 coconuts per year. Coconuts can be harvested from the ground once they have ripened and fallen or they can be harvested while still on the tree. A human climber can harvest approximately 25 trees in a day, while a knife attached to a pole can up the number to 250 trees harvested in a day. Monkeys can also be trained to harvest the coconuts, but this practice is less efficient than other methods. Green coconuts, harvested after about six to twelve months on the plant, contain pliable white fibres. Brown fibre is obtained by harvesting fully mature coconuts when the nutritious layer surrounding the seed is ready to be processed into copra and desiccated coconut. The fibrous layer of the fruit is then separated from the hard shell (manually) by driving the fruit down onto a spike to split it (De-husking). A well seasoned husker can manually separate 2,000 coconuts per day. Machines are now available which crush the whole fruit to give the loose fibres. These machines can do up to 2,000 coconuts per hour.
The fibrous husks are soaked in pits or in nets in a slow moving body of water to swell and soften the fibres. The long bristle fibres are separated from the shorter mattress fibres underneath the skin of the nut, a process known as wet-milling. The mattress fibres are sifted to remove dirt and other rubbish, dried in the sun and packed into bales. Some mattress fibre is allowed to retain more moisture so that it retains its elasticity for 'twisted' fibre production. The coir fibre is elastic enough to twist without breaking and it holds a curl as though permanently waved. Twisting is done by simply making a rope of the hank of fibre and twisting it using a machine or by hand. The longer bristle fibre is washed in clean water and then dried before being tied into bundles or hunks. It may then be cleaned and 'hackled' by steel combs to straighten the fibres and remove any shorter fibre pieces. Coir bristle fibre can also be bleached and dyed to obtain hanks of different colours.
The immature husks are suspended in a river or water-filled pit for up to ten months. During this time micro-organisms break down the plant tissues surrounding the fibres to loosen them — a process known as retting. Segments of the husk are then beaten by hand to separate out the long fibres which are subsequently dried and cleaned. Cleaned fibre is ready for spinning into yarn using a simple one-handed system or a spinning wheel.
Total world coir fibre production is 250,000 tonnes. The coir fibre industry is particularly important in some areas of the developing world. India, mainly the coastal region of Kerala State, produces 60% of the total world supply of white coir fibre. Sri Lanka produces 36% of the total world brown fibre output. Over 50% of the coir fibre produced annually throughout the world is consumed in the countries of origin, mainly India. Together India and Sri Lanka produce 90% of the 250,000 metric tons of coir produced every year.
In the recent past, countries such as Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam and certain Caribbean countries have started to supply to the global market in large scale.
Kerala fibre, natural fibre products.. is the biggest exporter from kerala in coir products.