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item Webber Iii, Charles

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) is an annual fiber crop closely related to cotton and okra which has many favorable characteristics that can benefit and protect the environment. For the last 3000 years, kenaf has been used as a cordage crop to produce twine, rope, and sackcloth. Then in the mid- 1950s it was determined that kenaf could be made into a large range of paper products, without using as much energy as standard wood sources. More recently business and public research efforts have developed additional uses for kenaf that also protect and benefit the environment. The newer environmental uses for kenaf fibers include products for soil remediation, toxic waste cleanup, oil spills on water supplies, reduced chemical and energy use for paper production, increase recycled paper quality, reduced soil erosion due to wind and water, reduced or replacement of fiberglass in industrial products, and the increase use of recycled plastics. Kenaf is also being incorporated into new environmental buildin materials. As a result of these many different types of products and the fiber components used in them, there is a greater requirement for examining the entire production, processing, and marketing system in order to produce economically feasible products. The purpose of this paper is to provide an introduction to the management considerations involved in commercialization of kenaf in the United States.

Technical Abstract: Research and commercial development of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) as a natural fiber source for industrial applications is taking place in the southern United States, particularly to create jobs, build infrastructure, and improve crop production. To build a thriving industry from scratch will require engineering management skills and an integrated systems approach involving directed research, focused development, and superior communications skills to keep all the diverse constituencies working closely for economic development of the region. Management decisions based on a systems approach will require the integration of the production, harvesting, processing, and utilization of kenaf. Also, as the commercial use of kenaf continues to diversify from its historical role as a cordage crop (rope, twine, and sackcloth) to its various applications from paper products to cattle feed, choices within the decision matrix will continue to increase and involve decisions ranging from basic agricultural production methods to marketing of industrial products. The commercial success of kenaf has important potential economic and environmental benefits. The purpose of this paper is to provide an introduction to the management considerations involved in commercialization of kenaf in the United States.