2009 is the International Year of Natural Fibers

Did you know that 2009 has been declared the International Year of Natural Fibers by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization?

Why is natural fiber so important?

The natural fiber organizations help the income and the food security of poor farmers such as those working with jute in Bangladesh, cotton in some West African countries and sisal (shown above) making a comeback in Tanzania.

“The main goal of the International Year of Natural Fibers is to raise the profile of these fibers and to emphasize their value to consumers while helping to sustain the incomes of the farmers. ” states the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

30 million tons or more are produced each year and natural fibers form an important component of clothing, upholstery and many textiles. Some also have industrial applications such as “packaging, papermaking and in composite materials with many uses, including as parts in automobiles.

Some features for 2009 will include:

  • The promotion of the efficiency and sustainability of the natural fiber industries.
  • The encouragement of appropriate policy responses from governments to the problems faced by natural fiber industries.
  • Large international conferences will be held.
  • Fostering an effective and enduring international partnership among the various natural fiber industries.
  • Displays and fashion shows and many other events in many countries, run by a variety of different national organizations.

The natural fibers honored are:
• Abaca
• Coir
• Cotton
• Flax
• Hemp
• Jute
• Silk
• Sisal
• Wool
• & Others

Why an International Year of Natural Fibers?

Since the 1960s, the use of synthetic fibers has increased, and natural fibers have lost a lot of their market share. Producers and processors of natural fibers face the challenge of developing and maintaining markets in which they can compete effectively with synthetics. In some cases, this has involved defining and promoting market niches. In others, where their natural advantages allow them to compete effectively with synthetics, basic research and development is needed to facilitate the use of natural fibers in new applications.

Via Eco Fashion World

Above image of a Sisal field in Tanzania is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

Written by Lucille Chi

Lucy Chi loves good green design, ethical fashion, environmental art and education, renewables, holistic healing and more. She has been dedicating her energies toward finding and drawing attention to all the ways in which products, companies, and industries are moving toward creating a more sustainable world on the global scale, as well as the way individuals are moving toward living sustainably, and healing at the personal level.

Sustainability studies: &
B.S. Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Dept. of Textiles and Fiber Science.

Contact: lucillechi (at)

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