Coir rope

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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
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.