SUNDAY OBSERVER Extra
Salvage coir industry, urge manufacturers
The traditional coir industry is the livelihood of over 3,000
families in Sri Lanka's Southern coastal belt. According to coir
industrialists who have been living in the area for the past few
decades, the industry has a long history of over 100 years. Even some of
our forefathers would have been engaged in the industry.
The Sunday Observer visited some homes from Wadduwa to Amabalangoda
in the Southern coastal belt to look into the development activities of
the coir industry.
During our brief stay we got an opportunity to listen to the
grievances of coir manufacturers.
An 82-year-old coir product manufacturer, Keerthisena Yapa of
Pohoddaramulla, Kalutara said he started making brooms and carpets at
the age of 13. He said his father David Appuhamy who was a well-known
carpet manufacturer in the area taught him the art of making coir
"My family and I depend on this industry and we make various products
such as brooms, carpets, wall hangings and brushes. We sell them at the
"In addition, we take them from house to house and sell. I also urge
local authorities in our area to help coir products manufacturers
financially to expand the industry,".
Since there is a significant drop in sales, some manufacturers do not
get a proper monthly income. Many of them are still living in wattle and
Fifty one-year-old Edward Ranjith of Kalutara said he started making
coir products at the age of 12.
"I learned th e art of making carpets and brooms from my late father
Ebert. I have been in the industry for the past 35 years, but unlike in
the past we now earn only for our daily expenses,".
Problems of producers
Ranjith appeals to officials of the Ministry of Small Industries to
visit the area and look into the needs of coir goods manufacturers. He
said raw coir is supplied from Kuliyapitiya, Wennappuwa, Kurunegala and
"A kilo of processed coir is Rs. 72 and about three brooms could be
made from a kilo of coir,".Kumarasiri Perera of Pohoddaramulla said even
during the last elections, politicians from various parties made
numerous promises to develop the coir industry.
`They said they would grant even loans from rural and co-operative
banks to build houses as well as to develop the coir industry.'
"But, these politicians never returned to help us," He therefore
urged Members of Parliament who represent these villages to visit them
and discuss their problems.Seventy-two-year old Mary Agnes of
Kandewatta, Pothupitiya said she started manufacturing coir products 55
"Unlike in the past, it is very difficult to earn money from coir
goods. I am sure the coir industry will die a natural death very soon
due to the use of synthetic goods by people,".
She therefore requested the Government to control the import of
syntheti products, since it has affected the coir industry as well as
A 48-year-old shop owner Keerthisena Perera said he has been in the
coir business for the past 12 years and earns about Rs. 20,000 a month.
In addition to coir products, Perera sells ekel brooms, hats made of
reed and also cane furniture.
He said tourists visit his shop often to buy hats and wall hangings.
A coir rope manufacturer, 53-year-old Osmand Silva of Kuda Waskaduwa
said he takes his products to Colombo, Jaffna and Kandy and earns a
sufficient amount every month.
He said without the Government support, it is difficult to develop
"I also urge the relevant Ministry officials to hold coir product
exhibitions in main cities to promote our products,". Fifty-five-year
old Walter Silva of Koboduwa said it was pathetic to say that not a
single official of the Divisional Secretariat in his area or a
Provincial Councillor takes interest to solve the burning issues of coir
"I think we should form an association and direct our problems to
relevant officials in order to get benefits," A coir goods shop owner,
Gamunu Weerasinghe urged officials of the Sri Lanka Tourism to use at
least 75 percent coir related products in tourist hotels, to support
coir goods manufacturers in the country.
A shop owner S. Jayatillaka commended President Mahinda Rajapaksa's
efforts to develop traditional industries and said that the President
should call coir goods manufacturers and discuss matters pertaining to
A coir goods supplier Siripala Ginige proposed the Railway Department
to encourage people in the South to transport coir products to the North
by trains. Coir goods manufacturer, Dayalal Fernando of Wadduwa
requested Government Departments, hospitals, schools and other Local
Government offices to use 80 percent coir related goods as it will help
over 3,000 coir industrialists.