Banana is one of the most important fruit crops in India, in addition to possessing a significant export value. The farming of this unassuming plant, whose fruit and leaves are indispensable to many an Indian household and temples, in fact generates several tonnes of biomass. Most of this, due to lack of suitable technology to render it useful, goes waste. The stems are left to rot in fields, discarded in open dumps or burnt on the roadside leading to the emission of Greenhouse Gasses.
On the upside, however, the Banana pseudo-stem fibre has many resilient properties: enhanced tensile strength, low density, strong moisture absorption capacity, ultraviolet (UV) resistance due to the lignin and more, opening possibilities of its use in the textile industry. This is what Dr. Veena Rao and Dr. Resmi G, professors at Manipal School of Architecture and Planning, investigate in their research.
Their study on “Value addition of plantain waste biomass to fabric grade banana fibre: an experimental study on processing, weaving, and designing contemporary fashions in Coastal Karnataka” is a project funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. The findings and recommendations emerging from the research are an invaluable contribution to developing methods of extraction of banana fibres and the feasibility of designing eco-friendly, sustainable garments. Further, the extraction and weaving of the fibres would no doubt hold promise as a source of livelihood to local farmers and weavers. This potential to enhance economic sustainability calls upon policy makers to devise training programmes to upskill and expand capabilities of rural youth in Coastal Karnataka.
In repurposing pseudo-stem fibres, what was otherwise considered waste, a surge of advantages abound in waste reduction, regional development, boosting creative industries, economic sustainability etc., which even further India’s contribution to Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) Targets.