Kochi, Nov 6 (UNI) The Coir Board, in association with the State Bank of Travancore (SBT), is launching a new scheme called 'Golden Fibre Plus', to improve the working conditions of the large number of women workers in the sector.
The scheme, to be launched shortly, will cover about 400 coir workers in four 'panchayats' in Alappuzha district of Kerala in the first phase, a Coir Board spokesman said here today.
Under the scheme, the State Bank of Travancore will give Rs 35,000 as loan to each woman worker to construct a spinning shed, procure raw material and invest in new machinery.
The loan, to be repaid over a seven-year period, will carry an interest rate of four per cent.
As an additional benefit, the Coir Board would provide a subsidy of Rs 10,000 per worker. Thus, in effect, the workers would have to repay only Rs 25,000 to the bank, the spokesman said.
''Right now, the women are not able to work for more than 100 days in a year due to climatic conditions. With the construction of the sheds, they would get a shelter against extreme sun and rain, thus being able to work for at least 200 days,'' he added.
There are almost 350,000 coir workers in Kerala, of whom 80 per cent are women.
In another breakthrough to lighten the burden of coir workers, the Central Coir Research Institute (CCRI) has come out with a new technology to treat unsoaked husk. The technology, using vegetable oil in a water emulsion, will impart greater softness to the fibre, making it easier to work with.
The New Delhi-based National Research Development Corporation had agreed to give a grant of Rs two lakh to the Coir Board to popularise this technology, which had also won the approval of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board as it was pollution-free. The grant would be utilised to give Rs 10,000 each to 20 cooperative societies to buy sprayers and other equipment needed for using the emulsion.
''This technology is expected to improve the working of the coir sector and enhance production,'' the spokesman added.