The Sisal (Agave sisalana) is a native plant from Mexico and was brought to Brazil around 1903, and only since the late 1930s, the Sisal came to be seen as an economical alternative. The plant was introduced in the states of Paraíba, Bahia and Rio Grande do Norte, due to favorable climatic conditions, which requires warm climate and great luminosity and is adapted to semi-arid regions, highly resistant to prolonged droughts.
Sisal (Agave spp) has narrow and long sheets, measuring 10 cm 15 cm wide and 120 cm to 160 cm long, green in color and a dark ending thorn.
The Sisal was introduced in Bahia, around 1910. However, only began to be exploited commercially since the late 30s Its adaptation to the conditions of the semi-arid region of the Northeast, where the options of cultivation are limited, gives Sisal a great socio-economic importance, generating employment and income in regions with low HID in Bahia. It is estimated that currently about 400 000 farmers cultivate Sisal in their properties. Moreover, direct jobs are generated in the processing and manufacturing of the fiber, mostly in urban centers.
Sisal leaves produce a highly durable fiber that is used to produce crafts, brooms, bags, purses, hats, twine, cordage, rugs and carpets, as well as in the automotive, furniture, appliances, Geotextiles (slope protection in agriculture and road surfacing), the mixture of polypropylene, replacing the glass fiber (composition of plastic objects) and construction.
Furthermore, it is also used in the manufacture of pulp for the production of Kraft paper (high resistance) and other types of thin paper (for cigarette filter, dielectric paper, sanitary napkin, diaper etc.).
In the State of Bahia, the Sisal fiber production is grown in 68 districts, some of those with the highest expression in terms of production, such as: Conception of Coité, Campo Formoso, Valente, among other
The shredding of the fiber is the main phase of post-harvest. Is the process of elimination of pulp or mucilage surrounding the fiber sheet by mechanical scraping.
The sisal sheet, while passing through the shredding process produces fiber (which corresponds to 4% of the leaf and subsequently undergo the processes of selection, beat, processing and marketing) and the residue (96%) composed of mucilage byproducts (15%), juice (80%) and bushing (1%). After the defibration, the fibers are placed on poles made with wire strands to dry in the sun.
The next step is the beating, which is the removal of the dust that involves sisal fiber. This step is processed in machines called mixers. After beating the fiber is then sorted and baled to be sold. The beating of the fiber, resulting in addition of the fiber, the sleeve and dust byproducts.
The byproducts of Sisal today practically unused can have numerous uses: the mucilage as a food supplement for cattle sheep and goats; bushing as organic fertilizer and the juice serves as medicine and can be used as a bio-insecticide, to control caterpillars, nematodes and ticks such as soap and healing paste.
Besides the advantages already presented, there is the possibility of opening new markets for the products of Sisal, given the growing concerns of the populations of developed countries to environmental preservation.