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Banana fibre – the next new sensation in textile industry
Aug '08
Innovation sees no limit and Indian consumers can expect something big coming up in the textile industry like fabrics and textiles woven from fine quality banana fibre.

A research study is already being carried out by the National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) and if the proposition turns out to be viable, the country can very soon expect the domestic market to be flooded with an array of textile and garment products made from banana fibre. In India this fibre is mostly used for making handicraft items but even the US market has a huge demand for this raw material.

As of now, the NRCB has joined hands with the Central Institute of Cotton Technology, Mumbai, with the aim of producing quality fibre by improving the retting process, adding certain non hazardous chemicals to banana fibre to produce lengthy fibre, with adequate strength and lustre.

This process will have to be undertaken as banana fibre drawn from the stem of the plants is very brittle which makes drawing-out of long fibre a little difficult. In fact, the NRCB had also brought special varieties of banana plants from the Phillippines and the Middle East that does not bear fruits or flower and only yields fibre. However, crucial tests like long term durability of the fabric, retention of fast color dyeing and stitching capability has to be conducted before the technology can be adopted for commercial production.

In an exclusive interview with Fibre2fashion, Dr C K Narayana, Principal Scientist at NRCB informed saying, “The fibre is essentially made from banana plant stem which is considered as a waste material after harvesting. Although, there are a few available machines to extract banana fibre, there is a lack of adequate methodology to make yarn from the fibre.”

While Central Institute of Cotton Technology, Mumbai is working on developing that methodology, the Khadi Village Industry Commission (KVIC) in Trivandrum has already used banana fibres for blending with cotton to produce fabric from it.

Dr Rajan P Nachane, Principle Scientist and Head, Quality Evaluation & Improvement Division of Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology, also pointed out that, “Being completely biodegradable and naturally occurring, the banana fibre products are expected to be in great demand in the international markets as they pose no toxic effects to man and the environment. A number of value added textile products can be made which in turn would enhance the profitability of banana farming. Banana fibres can be made available at cheap rate for preparation of fancy articles as well as textiles. In the past spinning of Banana fibres has been tried on jute spinning machinery for making ropes and sacks. However, spinning performance of Banana fibres for the preparation of yarns and fabrics has not been tried much in India.”

He further added that from an estimated yield of one million tons of dry banana fibres annually, a very small quantity is presently being utilized for the preparation of handicraft items.

With the increasing demand for banana in both the Indian and international markets, the acreage and production are expected to increase in the coming years, thus generating more of the pseudostem biomass waste. Being a rich source of natural fibres, the pseudostem can be profitably utilized for numerous applications and preparation of various products.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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