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Banana fiber market potential

Banana is cultivated all through the year. There are 10 million hectares of banana plantation in the world. Every year, after the plant bears fruits the main stem (called pseudo stem) needs to be removed since the main plant starts to wither and the crop continues to grow through offshoots for two or more years.
Normally farmers employ labour to either cut or uproot the pseudo stems and throw them by the roadside. For this, a farmer needs to invest Rs. 10000 per acre as labour charge for cutting and removing the plant from the field.
Very few farmers show inclination to use the stem as manure by shredding and incorporating it in the fields. They feel that it is time consuming and laborious.

Attributes of banana fiber
• The inner layer is soft like silk
• The outer layer is rough like burlap or cotton
• The silky interior fiber is very delicate
• At the same time, it is often more expensive to produce than silk
• Since silk is already one of the planet’s most sustainable fibers, banana fiber is not in high demand worldwide

There are only two main types of banana fiber, but there are four terms you should be familiar with:

  1. Inner-peel banana fiber
    This type of banana fabric is very soft like silk. It is relatively expensive to produce, and it is reasonably delicate.
  2. Outer-peel banana fiber
    Used for centuries in industrial applications, this rough, coarse fiber is perfect for mats, ropes, and in some cases, outerwear and thick garments.
  3. Banana cotton
    High-grade outer-peel banana fiber is sometimes called banana cotton. Its texture is similar to cotton, and the two fabrics share many other attributes as well.
  4. Banana silk
    “Banana silk” is another term for inner-peel banana fiber.

The fibre from the plant has been traditionally used for stringing flowers and in the manufacture of paper and rugs. But farmers are still not aware of the potential of fibre generation from an acre of banana plantation.

Various applications
Banana fiber is used very differently depending on whether it is made with the inner or outer peel and stem lining. The inner lining is so soft that it’s been likened to silk, and much like silk, banana fabric is highly temperamental and delicate. Banana fiber is used as an alternative for any garment commonly made from silk, so that includes blouses, shirts, negligees, lingerie, slips, gowns, robes, eveningwear, etc.

Use in accessories
When it comes to accessories, expect to see banana fiber used more frequently to make scarves, hats, and gloves as sustainable, organic products become increasingly popular.

Use in industry and decor
Traditionally, a lack of technological sophistication limited banana fiber use to rough applications like doormats, wall weaves, and ropes. In some indigenous communities, banana fiber is still used for these ancestral purposes, but applications of this fiber outside the realm of wearable products are usually limited to tropical-themed decor items.

Banana fiber average value is around 1000 EUR / Ton. Around 5-6 stems are needed to extract 1kg of fiber. Productivity would be enhanced higher for machine extractor.
India leads the world in terms of banana production, producing around 18% of the worldwide crop of 139 million metric tons (2012). Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are the leading banana producing states. Although about 500,000 hectares are under banana cultivation, only 10% of the banana stem waste is processed into fiber. If farmers decide to supply banana stems to these fiber processing units, they would not only clear waste without any cost, but also would benefit from their earnings. They can set up a small-scale unit at a cost of INR110,000, that would employ a few semi-skilled workers.
Eco Green Unit purchases coarse banana fiber for around INR120-150 per kg depending on quality. This is then processed further to obtain fine yarn that is used in handloom. The unit exports its products to the US, Sweden, Norway, Holland and Germany. The unit feels this material has huge export potential since people in Western countries are keen on buying eco-friendly products. Although there is a demand for 50 to 60 tons of banana fiber each month to meet its export commitments, at present it exports around 12-13 tons a month. However, it would take time before banana fiber products could be sold in Indian markets.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/agriculture/banana-fibre-has-good-market-potential/article6082539.ece https://sewport.com/fabrics-directory https://www.ecoideaz.com/innovative-green-ideas/producing-banana-fiber-and-paper-from-waste https://www.the-sustainable-fashion-collective.com/2019/06/03/what-is-banana-fibre-and-how-do-you-make-textiles-from-it

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