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International Year of Natural Fibres 2009

The United Nations has declared 2009 the International Year of Natural Fibres (IYNF).
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was recommended to assist in conducting events in collaboration with governments, regional and international organizations, NGOs, the respective UN agencies and the private sector.

Nearly 30 million tonnes of natural fibres - those from animals and plants - are produced around the world each year, with cotton accounting for two-thirds of total production. Other important fibres include wool, jute, sisal, coir, silk and hemp. These renewable fibres are easily transformed into yarn for use in clothing, upholstery, packaging and papermaking.

Following the highly successful International Year of the Potato in 2008, IYNF seeks to raise the profile of natural fibres as important sources of income for poor producers, particularly in context of the price rise of synthetic substitutes. The UN also hopes IYNF will help raise awareness of the importance of natural fibres, encourage sustainability and efficiency in fibre production, promote policies to encourage production and stimulate international partnerships in the natural fibres industries. A programme of events is being compiled, including a number of international conferences.

Flax is an important natural fibre for Belarus, which is one of the top five flax producing countries in the world and ranks third among CIS countries (following Russia and Ukraine). Belarus produces 16% of Europe's flax fibre or 9% worldwide. About 350 flax farms and 49 flax processing factories are involved in flax cultivation. The average flax cultivation area per farm is above 150 ha.

IYNF Coordinating Unit
Trade and Markets Division
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Rome, Italy
Fax: +39 06 57054495

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