DIVERSIFIED use of sisal products and by-products domestically and abroad seems to have soothed the pains of struggling small-scale producers of the cash crop, giving hopes for high returns on their capital, time and labour investments.
This was revealed in Dar es Salaam by Mr Hamad Dege, Katani Limited Agricultural Officer at the just ended Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF).
"The sisal fibre has composite applications in the automotive and construction industry. Huge demand is likely to develop as sisal fibre is superior to other natural fibres particularly in the use of paper making, thanks to its higher elastic modulus, impact strength and moderate tensile flexion strengths," he said.
He said traditionally, sisal was mostly used for production of agricultural twines, ropes, cordage, sacks, bags and carpets.
Currently, he said the sisal strips are used to make a flower pot or any other souvenir and once treated with a spatial repellent known as transfluthrin and placed in the living room or outdoors, those sitting within a radius of two metres would be 100 per cent safe from mosquito bites.
The new discovery is not only hygienically beneficial to all Tanzanians, but also an economic incentive to farmers to increase sisal production to meet the soaring demand that would result into increased incomes and improved living standards.
He added that, the production of alternative value added products from sisal such as biogas, bio fertilisers, biofuel, industrial alcohols, pulp for paper, buffing cloth and composites was fuelling demand for the cash crop.
Furthermore, the utilisation of sisal fibre woven products like carpets and matting has remained unchanged; use of the fibre in buffing cloth is an opportunity for which there is a demand in Far Eastern countries like China.
"There is great need for the sisal industry to continue diversifying its end uses in order to become viable and relevant in today's competitive business environment," he noted.
Despite fluctuations during economic crisis, he said sisal prices in the world market has been stable and promising for increased income generations to the small scale growers for improved livelihood and the efforts to alleviate poverty.
The average sisal price in the world market ranges between 1,200 and 1,500 US dollars per tonne, even at times of bumper harvests in Brazil, China and Kenya which are among the world leading sisal producers.