Useful Papers


East Asia, NAFTA and South Asia dominate world production of vegetable fibres. But what is also apparent is that in each region there are generally one or two countries that are major producers and account for most of the produce in that region, and the commodities are often restricted to major production levels in just a few regions/countries. Africa is a bit of an exception to this observation above, as there are no stand out countries that lead the production levels by a great margin, and the all the commodities in question are produced in the continent.


There is a growing resurgence in the demand for natural fibres, and a move away from petrochemical based synthetic fibres. Although it may still be many years before natural fibres gain anything near their former market share, there are still great opportunities that exist; the fibres market and the downstream applications is a massive one. The papers below provide information about the commercial use of natural fibres: 


Trade in Sisal although declining for the better part of thirty years, has recently started to recover again, and it seems, that many of the initiatives undertaken by the Common Fund for Commodities and others, have started bearing fruit.

Additional information about trade in Jute:

General trade patterns

Trade information on hemp:


Countries use tariffs barriers and non-tariffs barriers to protect their domestic producers’ markets from imported goods. Tariffs increase the price of imported goods compared to domestic goods, thereby giving domestic producers a relative price advantage. Non-tariff barriers potential to hinder exporters’ ability to sell their products into foreign markets is greater than tariff barriers. Non-tariff barriers increase a producer’s costs throughout the supply chain due to the complexity of the processes that he/she must adhere too and the bureaucratic cost of ensuring that procedures are documented. An interesting development that will affect the structure of tariffs and non-tariffs barriers applied to natural fibres is their classification as environmental goods. For more information about this issue refer to the following articles:

Way Forward

Sisal grown in Africa has always had the best reputation for the highest quality. Simply put, it grows best here. And with advances in the processing methods, including the introduction of small portable machines that allow smallholders to access the value chain, sisal has a real future in the region. For example of African framers success in this products, refer to the following articles:

Useful Contacts

  • International Jute Study Group (IJSG)
  • International Commodity Body (ICB) for Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibers
  • International Jute Organisation (IJO)
  • European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA)