The first coir factory was set up in India in 1859 in Alappuzha, Kerala. It became, and for long remained, the nerve centre of coir industry in the country. But a shortage of raw materials is now impacting the trade. Industry-owners are using jute from West Bengal, and the infrastructure and skilled workers of Kerala, to make jute mats. The workers in Kerala are the last generation that possesses this skill.
V. Sasikumar is a 2015 PARI Fellow, and a Thiruvananthapuram-based filmmaker who focuses on rural, social and cultural issues.Other stories by V. Sasikumar