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Colonial Bag Industries

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 22 May 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, after further scientific and technical inquiry and in view of the world shortage, it is possible to develop locally in the Colonial Empire small factories for the manufacture of gunny or other bags from local resources.

There are already two factories of the type mentioned in operation in the Colonial Empire, one in Mauritius, using Mauritius fibre to make sugar bags and the other in Kenya, using sisal to manufacture bags for use in the coffee and maize industries. A considerable amount of bag and cordage making is also undertaken in the Colonies in the form of cottage industries. I am in correspondence with the acting Governor of Mauritius regarding the improvement of the Mauritius industry. In Kenya it has been found that sisal bags develop holes when pierced by the hooks used during transport and also have a tendency to slip when stacked in warehouses. It is however hoped to overcome these defects in the course of research. Coconut fibre or coir is at present the only other possible source for production of bags. It is used for this purpose in Puerto Rico. I am watching developments there with interest, in the hope that it may be possible to extend the industry to British Colonial territories, including Jamaica and Trinidad, where coir is at present extracted for the production of mattress fibre and rope and twine. But the concentrations of coconut cultivation may not be sufficiently large in the British West Indian Colonies for running costs in a local bag making industry to be competitive.