National Technology Day 2021 at CSIR-CLRI

CSIR-CLRI (Central Leather Research Institute), Chennai, celebrated the National Technology Day 2021 on the theme “Leather and Leather Products from Goat Skins”.    The welcome address was delivered by Dr J. Raghava Rao, Chief Scientist, CSIR-CLRI, during which he threw light on the importance of National Technology Day and the interventions of CSIR-CLRI towards technological empowerment in various facets, including the Institute’s contributions to tackle the ongoing pandemic situation.

On this occasion, a compendium comprising the outline, salient features and advantages of major technologies developed or transferred by CSIR-CLRI during recent years was released. The technologies have been classified into five broad groups for the convenience of the potential users — Leather Processing Technologies, Leather Chemicals, Waste Management Technologies, Leather Product Technologies and Healthcare products.

Post the release of the Compendium, a panel discussion was organised on the topic “Future trends and techno-commercial advancements for goat leather — A way forward”. The discussion was moderated by Dr B. Chandrasekaran, Former Director, CSIR-CLRI. He offered an insight into the production of leather and leather products. He presented the share and value of goat skins in the world market and emphasised on the need to propel goat as a flagship material in the Indian leather industry. He spoke about the processing of goat glazed kid leather and stressed about its physical and chemical properties. He also spoke about the various process strategies for different unit operations involved in the manufacture of goat leathers.

Shri. N Shafeeq Ahmed, Managing Director of Shafeeq Shameel and Co., Ambur, during his remarks pointed out that although goat constituted 40% of the animal population, it was not utilised as one would have wanted. He explained the need for implementing the PPP model — Process (set towards end-product development), Promotion (building retail value) & Policy (specific policy measures for goat skins) for propelling the leather industry towards success.

The need for coming out with futuristic technologies, which would help in managing the processing of goat skins for quality output of leather, should be vigorously examined and pursued by the R&D group. Simultaneously, he also stressed the need for promoting it as a quality material for the product sector to harness the benefits of this material.

Finally, he concluded by putting forth the need for policies on the part of the Government and the industry to give the necessary thrust to make goat leather from India a sought-after material.

Shri Rehan Ahmed, Director of N.J. Exports, Kolkata, emphasized on the challenges faced in terms of technology and promotion in the Eastern region to utilise the raw material of goat skin efficiently. He sought the intervention of CSIR-CLRI in developing goat skin as a raw material on par with cow and sheep. His plea for superior processing of the goat skin was noted and he was assured by Dr B. Chandrasekaran of the co-operation from the Institute. Shri Rehan Ahmed also wanted the contribution of the Council for Leather Exports in promoting goat skin in the world market and create a place for this leather in the global arena.

Shri R. Mohan Kumar, Managing Partner of Prime Tannery, Trichy and also the Treasurer of the Trichy Tanners Association stressed on making chrome-free leather from goat skin. He said that this was the way forward to sustain in the market and in the coming decades this process would play a major role for the Indian leather industry in the international arena. 

Shri Zia Nafis, CEO, Nafis Tanning Industries, Kolkata, who has been associated with the leather industry for more than three decades, continued the discussion and highlighted how he was able to upgrade the lower-end goat leathers that were available from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. He explained the idea behind this by underlining the fact that they were made as milled leather and converted into products. 

He underlined the success in making portfolios from goat skin that was unheard of some time back. He sought the intervention of modern technology from CSIR-CLRI to retain the thickness of the goat material at 1.0 mm to 1.2 mm range. Shri Zia sought technological assistance in making tighter grain goat skin and requested for proper promotion and marketing to be put in place. Scarcity of high-end cow leathers and reduction in prices of goat skin can be capitalised to promote high-end goat skin. He wanted the technologists and industrialists to explore the concept of utilising goat skin in other segments such as garments and industrial gloves.

Shri K. Venkatesan, Production Manager, Gemini Enterprises, Chennai, explained that goat skin in India was mostly processed into shoe suede and sourcing thicker suede for garments was not easy. The low-end goat skins were consumed mainly as lining leather. He appealed for large abattoirs and proper storage in the form of adequate collection centres as well as transportation methodology of raw skins. He opined that traceability and certification of leather would be a future mandate. Additionally, there is a need for producing biodegradable, sustainable and eco-friendly leathers.

Shri Abdur Rawoof, General Manager (Technical) of Star Exports, Chennai, enlightened about the footwear segment covering the history of goat leathers, pitfalls in the transition process, current trends and recommendations. Unorganised slaughtering of goats leads to difficulty in sourcing fresh skins and subsequent lack of softness and suppleness in goat leathers. He expressed that owing to the prevailing limitations in export policy of not allowing semi-finished leather exports, the basket of design studios finds very less or almost nil collection of goat leathers. Alternate technology in tanning can be deployed and research, as well as Government bodies, should come forward for a collaboration with design labs, tanneries and chemical companies to overcome the situation. He also suggested that the provision of special monetary benefits to the goat leather producers may also help to revive the trend.

On behalf of the Director, CSIR-CLRI, Dr J. Raghava Rao appreciated the topic of the panel discussion and addressed it as the need of the hour. He said that CSIR-CLRI has already taken steps in implementing appropriate initiatives focusing on goat leather processing, including techniques to impart sheep-like properties to goat skins. He also concurred with the industry that CSIR-CLRI should explore the possibility of setting up a Centre of Excellence to facilitate technological advancements on goat-based leathers.     He stated that the Institute will collaborate with the Industry, explore the avenues for re-establishing the market of goat leathers and devise necessary technological interventions to enhance the visibility of goat leathers.

On the occasion, CSIR-CLRI also released several snippets highlighting the availability, market and technologies for goat skin processing on social media platforms.