Alappuzha (Kerala): Coir exports are likely to grow by 24 percent to Rs 1,000 crore in the current fiscal on growing demand from new markets like Russia and Latin America, Kerala's Minister for Coir Adoor Prakash said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Ministry has set a target to double coir exports to Rs 1,600 crore in the next five years. The strategy to double exports from around Rs 800 crore in the last financial year is a part of the Ministry's recommendations to the Planning Commission for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17).

"We expect coir exports to touch Rs 1,000 crore in this fiscal owing to increasing demand from new markets like Russia, Africa and Latin America," Prakash told reporters on the sidelines of 'Coir Kerala International Trade Fair' in Alappuzha.

Exports have grown at a healthy rate of over 20 percent in the last nine months of this fiscal, Prakash said. He, however, added that there is a demand slowdown in major markets like the US and Europe due to fragile economic recovery there. The US and Europe account for about 72 percent of the country's total coir exports.

The MSME Ministry's plan to double exports include developing unique items like coir jackets, coir umbrellas, coir hats, coir jewellery and popularise them with an "eco-friendly" image. Products made out of coir at present include mats, carpets, matting tiles, yarn, bags and decorative items.

"The Ministry of Environment and Forests is actively considering a proposal for granting eco-mark for coir and coir products. This will enhance the potential for marketing these items within the country and abroad," an MSME Ministry official said.

The MSME Ministry has also sought a Budget allocation of Rs 870 crore for promoting the industry. The coir industry is facing problems like low productivity, scarcity of raw material and poor technology.

(Agencies)