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Welcome Address

Ms Paola Fortucci[1]

I would like to welcome you all to this seminar.

This seminar has been arranged as part of the Consultation on Natural Fibres, being held this year for the first time in conjunction with the Joint Meeting of the IGG on Hard Fibres and the IGG on Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibres. It has been organised jointly by FAO and the Common Fund for Commodities. We are grateful to the Common Fund for its support, and we look forward to a valuable exchange of views and information which could provide a basis for action to strengthen the longer term viability of the sisal and the henequen sectors and lead to improvement in incomes in the industry.

Sisal and henequen have for many years been facing a long term contraction of their traditional markets, and their future will depend very much on the development of new applications. This seminar is devoted to a review of the alternative applications for sisal and henequen. I trust that this examination of alternative potential markets will contribute to an expansion of demand for this fibre.

These fibres are of great economic importance to certain very low income populations in a number of least developed countries. I hope that this seminar can assist in identifying the way forward for sisal, and ultimately to a better future for the farmers and workers in the industry.

There are obvious similarities between sisal and other natural fibres. Sisal is not alone in facing a contracting market in the face of competition from synthetic fibres, and to a large extent, the consideration of alternative applications in this seminar will also be of interest to producers of jute and other natural fibres.

I hope you will find the seminar today to be a useful and an interesting experience, and that it provides an opportunity for the sharing of ideas between people with interests in different fibres.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[1] Director, Commodities and Trade Division, FAO, Viale delle Termi di Caracalla, 00100, Rome, Italy.

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