Natural fibre industries

Posted by on mag 12, 2010 in Sustainability Mission | 1 comment

Natural fibre industries

Natural fibre industries employ millions of people 
and contribute to a greener planet.

The International Year of Natural Fibres will be officially launched on 22 January 2009, at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome.

Objectives

  • raise awareness and stimulate demand for natural fibres;
  • promote the efficiency and sustainability of the natural fibres industries;
  • encourage appropriate policy responses from governments to the problems faced by natural fibre industries;
  • foster an effective and enduring international partnership among the various natural fibres industries.

What are Natural Fibres?

Natural fibres may be defined as those renewable fibres from plants or animals which can be easily transformed into a yarn for textiles. Animal fibres are largely those which cover mammals such as sheep, goats and rabbits, but include also the cocoon of the silk-worm. Vegetable fibres are derived from the stem, leaf or seed of various plants. Close to 30 million tonnes of natural fibres are produced annually in the world, of which cotton is dominant with 20 million tonnes, wool and jute each around 2 to 3 million tonnes followed by a number of others.

What are Natural Fibres used for?

Natural fibres form an important component of clothing, upholstery and other textiles for consumers, and many of them also have industrial uses in packaging, papermaking and in composite materials with many uses, including automobiles.

Why are Natural Fibres important?

Apart from their importance to the consumer and in their various industrial uses, natural fibres are an important source of income for the farmers who produce them. In some cases they are produced on large farms in developed countries, but in many developing and least developed countries proceeds from the sale and export of natural fibres contribute significantly to the income and food security of poor farmers and workers in fibre industries. For some developing countries natural fibres are of major economic importance, for example, cotton in some west African countries, jute in Bangladesh and sisal in Tanzania. In other cases these fibres are of less significance at the national level but are of major local importance, as in the case of jute in West Bengal (India) and sisal in north-east Brazil.

Why an International Year of Natural Fibres?

Since the 1960s, the use of synthetic fibres has increased, and natural fibres have lost a lot of their market share. The main objective of the International Year of Natural Fibres is to raise the profile of these fibres, to emphasise their value to consumers while helping to sustain the incomes of the farmers. Promoting measures to improve the efficiency and sustainability of production is also an important aspect of the Year.

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