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Coir is the fibre in green and brown coconut husks. The split coconuts get
soaked in water for a long time to separate the fibres before drying. Soft,
high-quality white coir comes from unripe green coconuts and strong, coarse
brown coir comes from mature coconuts.
Coir rope-making is a common cottage industry in India. This is where a family
works together from their home. They actually work outside, somewhere with
plenty of space to stretch out the lengths of rope and preferably with shade,
like under big trees. The coconut fibre is attached to hooks on a wheel that is
turned by hand. This twists the coir while more is added. It forms a strong
rope that doesn’t unwind or break.
Everyone in the family helps, including the children. Sometimes the owner may be
able to afford to employ other people’s children instead. Children earn 15
rupees for working an 11-hour day.
Loops of coir rope
The coir fibre industry is important for developing countries such as India and
Sri Lanka. India makes 60 per cent of the world’s supply of white coir fibre.
Coir rope has many uses, including tying up animals, securing loads, and webbing
for beds. Coir fibre is also used to make other things like brushes, doormats,
mattress filling, padding inside furniture, sacking, garden twine, and matting
for pot plants and gardens.
Products made from good quality coir absorb water without weakening the fibres.
Coir is the only natural fibre that resists damage by salt water.