Future Fibres

The Intergovernmental Group on Hard Fibres and the Intergovernmental Group on Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibres

Functions of the Intergovernmental Group (IGG) on Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibres 

Membership in the Group is open to all Member Nations and Associate Members of FAO, including Observers from international organizations and institutions. Nearly all importing and exporting countries of jute, kenaf and allied fibres are Members of the IGG.

Functions of the IGG on Hard Fibres

The Group provides a forum for consultation on the economic aspects of production, marketing, local processing, trade, research and consumption of abaca, sisal, henequen, coir and other hard fibres, individually and as a group. The Group  promotes analytical and policy actions with respect to the above hard fibres including the following:

1. The recommendation of measures designed to bring greater stability to the world sisal, henequen, abaca and coir markets and viability to the sisal, henequen, abaca and coir industries.

2. The assembly and examination of information on current and prospective supplies, requirements, foreign trade and prices of sisal, henequen, abaca and coir and their manufactures in both exporting and importing countries on the basis of all available data on areas, including years of planting; production, exports, imports, consumption, stocks and prices of the raw fibres and their manufacture.

3. In the light of the current and prospective situation regarding global demand and supply, , indicative price ranges acceptable to both importing and exporting countries are agreed.

4. The consideration and recommendation of all measures which would contribute to the viability of hard fibre industries and enhanced participation of smallholder producers in the value chain.

Increasingly, technical side events are organized in conjunction with the IGG to facilitate a dialogue between FAO delegates, international policy makers and the private sector. Linkages with other international organizations and commodity bodies are encouraged.

Strategy of the IGG on Hard Fibres

At its Twenty-ninth Session in 1996 the Group adopted a development strategy for hard fibres. The strategy guides the priorities and work of the Secretariat and ensures that projects funded  by the CFC or other key partners fits into an overall improvement program for the commodity. The Future Fibres initiative falls under the IGG strategy and contributes to its goals.

The aim of the development Strategy for hard fibres is to strengthen the economic viability of the fibres industries in the face of a considerable loss of market in recent years. The Strategy also has implications for the action of individual governments, private sector organizations and other institutions concerned with the improvement of conditions in the markets for hard fibres.

The three major streams contained in the Strategy are to expand markets and improve returns to fibre producers; to improve production and processing technologies and reduce costs; and, while seeking to improve the economic viability of these industries, to ensure that social and environmental standards are at least maintained and are improved where possible.

An important element to be featured in the promotion strategies for all natural fibres is their superior environmental friendliness vis-à-vis synthetics. Members of the Intergovernmental Group on Hard Fibres and a growing number of environmentally-conscious consumers have recognized that the damage to the environment and the associated costs to the society, from disposing of synthetic end-products are considerably greater than those accruing from biodegradable products, such as hard fibres. The environmental advantage of hard fibres will not only be highlighted in promotion messages, but will also constitute an integral component of any research undertaken to improve the characteristics of traditional products or of the search for new ones within the overall strategy.

The Strategy has been periodically reviewed and revised, most recently at the Joint Meeting of the Thirty-sixth Session of the Intergovernmental Group on Hard Fibres and the Thirty-eighth Session of the Intergovernmental Group on Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibres in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil on 16-18 November 2011. The amendments introduced on that occasion are reflected in the current statement. Both the Strategy and the agreed follow-up action are subject to periodic review and amendment by the IGG in the light of any changed circumstances that may arise.

The Joint Meeting agreed that although all the elements of the strategy as described in document CCP:HF/JU 11/3 remained relevant, there was a need to focus on priority areas. These are reflected under the section on Intergovernmental Action Plan and included the following:

• Policy;
• Research and development;
• Analysis;
• Standards and certification;
• Value chain; and
• Promotion and networking.

Intergovernmental Action Plan

Based on the Group’s renewed strategy, the Joint Meeting devised and agreed upon the following intergovernmental action plan, which called for immediate progress to be made in all strategic areas. The Meeting also emphasized that the scope of the priorities could be amended as and when required. Unless indicated otherwise, the Secretariat will be responsible for implementing the Action Plan under the guidance and assistance of the nominated “Champions”.

a) Policy

• Actively engage in monitoring policy in trade and market developments, including their impact on countries and regions. To this end, the existing questionnaire should be modified to include emerging trade related issues.

• Synthesize the numerous studies and make them  available to Members. Develop partnerships among FAO, the Champions and other relevant stakeholders to improve information sharing and dissemination.

• Analyze policies which impact consumption of fibres.

• Governments to be involved with policy formulation related to fibres.

Champion: Mr Wilson Andrade (Chairperson), Mr Salum Shamte

b) Research and development

• Agronomic;

• Processing;

• Markets;

• Programme on R & D will be developed by the Champions and submitted for consideration of the Groups by early February 2012. The Secretariat with the guidance and assistance from the Champions;

• Innovation and replication

Champions: Messrs Alcides Lopes Leão, Dilip Tambyrajah and Ms Ines Toro Suarez

c) Analysis

• Market outlook and projections of raw materials and products

• Foundation for model building;

• Annual market reports;

• Strengthen and improve data capability through FAO Representatives and other sources;

• Mechanism for dissemination and analysis;

• Greater focus should be given to market conditions and trends, including local and regional markets, the impacts of biotechnology on trade, demand for traditional products in emerging or lesser-known markets and opportunities for sisal and other fibres in the construction industry.

With the guidance and assistance from the Champions, countries should provide information necessary to carry out the work on analysis, including the regular market assessments and medium term projections.

Champions: Mr Hamisi Mapinda
Members of the Working Group: Colombian Chain of Value for Fique, Fiber Industry  Development Authority, National Kenaf and Tobacco Board of Malaysia, Tanzania Sisal  Board, The Jute Study Group, The London Sisal Association, The Philippine Coconut  Authority and any others

d) Standards and certification

• The Champions will identify and review standards and certification requirements and advise the Secretariat of existing and continuing work in this area for dissemination to the Groups. Deadline: March 2012

Champions: Messrs Dilip Tambyrajah, Alcides Lopes Leão, Ahmad Bin Loman and  Peter Clasen

e) Value chain

• Analysis of each fibre value chain which should also underpin research and development efforts to maximize plant utilization and identify options for improving smallholder participation in the value chain;

• Product/process development should aim at 100 percent utilization.

The Secretariat with the guidance and assistance of the Champion will coordinate and map the way forward for value chain analyses requirements of the Groups.

Champion: Mr Daniel Cruz

f) Promotion and networking

• The suggestion of the creation of a working group to assist the Champion was seen as being the way forward;

• Natural fibres could be promoted through private sector companies that use natural fibres in their products (i.e. automobile industries) and greater use of the Future Fibres website to share information on available research;

• The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) could collaborate with the IGG/HFJU, particularly in the area of job creation, poverty alleviation and increasing food security;

• Promotion idea: natural fibres industry to work with plastic industries;

• Logo needs to be improved, especially the sisal and jute plants;

• E-groups/blogs;

• Share information;

• Advertise websites;

• Prioritize

The Secretariat will liaise with the Champion to promote the work of the Group via the  electronic forum to be included in the Future Fibres website.

Champion: Mr Wilson Andrade (Chairperson)
Members of the Working Group: Ms Cecilia Gloria J. Soriano, Messrs Dilip Tambyrajah and Alcides Lopes Leão

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