Banana is rightly called Kalpataru, a likening to an ancient fruit cultivated all over the world.
India is the world's largest banana producer with an annual output of 24.8 million tonnes followed by China, Philippines, Ecuador and Brazil. India accounts for 22 per cent of the global banana production. Apart from providing textiles, banana fibre production provides employment opportunities to thousands of poor people in India.
Bananas are harvested two to four times a year and the stems are usually cut and thrown away as waste. Banana fibre is also a major substitute to the pulp industry. With so many beneficial characteristics, this fibre is gaining popularity in the fashion industry as many renowned clothing lines and fashion designers are embracing fabric made from banana. Moreover, the fibre is eco-friendly and biodegradable compared to other synthetic fibres.
Give me more: Uses and demand of banana fibre
Every part of the banana plant can be used. Banana leaves are used as bio-plates for serving food and the fruit and spadix can be consumed. The innermost part of the stem, also edible, is used for medicinal purposes. This plant has been a source of high quality textiles for ages so banana fibre is not a new discovery but certainly a unique one. The Japanese have been processing banana fibres for almost 800 years so they have achieved expertise in making banana clothing. Nepalese weavers have been making beautiful and luxurious rugs from banana fibre.
In the past, the use of banana fibre was limited. It was chiefly used for making mats, ropes and some composite products. With increasing awareness and growing importance of sustainable products, banana fibres have been increasingly used in making apparel, paper, footwear, handbags and home furnishings. In Japan, banana fibre is used for making traditional kimono and kamishimo dress. In Japan, people still prefer to wear dresses made from banana fabric as summer wear.
The banana plant, commonly found in hot tropical regions, grows easily without any chemicals or pesticides. All kinds of banana plants are abundant in fibre. The fibres are obtained from the stem of the banana plant after the fruit is harvested. Banana fibre is also used to produce curtains, bags, cushion covers, neck ties etc. Nepalese hand-knotted banana silk fibre rugs are made from bleached and dried banana fibres. These rugs are renowned all over the world.
Currently, banana fibre is widely used as blending material in the textile sector. There's a high demand for it in countries like United States of America, Malaysia, Korea, European Union and Philippines. Japan's currency, the Yen, is made out of banana fibre. So, exporting banana fibre will bring substantial foreign exchange to India. A proper coordination with manufacturing units and exporting countries needs to be established and there is no doubt that this sector will bring a revolution.