Do we need to shift our focus from traditional natural cellulosic textile fibres to innovative textile fibres like bagasse, pineapple leaf, cornhusk, water hyacinth? Preeti Kaur Sachdeva, Dr. Bhawana Chanana and Dr. M S Parmar examine reports and study to find out.


What is waste? As Tom Szaky said, "On looking at waste as an entirely modern, man-made idea, I stopped viewing garbage as garbage and instead started to see it as a commodity."


In India, agriculture provides 54 per cent employment in rural as well as urban India. The total share of agricultural output in terms of percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 13.9per cent during 2013-2014 at 2004-05 prices. Total estimated agricultural crop production for the same year was 264.77 million tonnes. After the isolation of the main agricultural product, abundant solid residue is generated. Worldwide, it is common practice to dump residue as garbage. The piles of residue decompose by microbial activity and become a nuisance for the environmental health. Industries use agricultural residues for co-generation, but these residues being of low calorific value, generate smoke and pollute the environment on burning.


Burning agricultural residue in the agricultural field has been common practice throughout north India. It produces lethal smoke leading to respiratory diseases. Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned such burning and declared such practice illegal and fineable. Now, all stakeholders have to think of novel and sustainable methods to utilise the idle, underutilized resources that are of important economic value to India.


Rice, wheat, sugarcane, soybean, corn, banana, pineapple, bamboo and okra are a few examples of crops that generate considerable residues. These contribute to the major part of the total annual production of biomass residue and are an important source of long and short fibres rich in cellulosic content.


What are agro-residues?

Agricultural residue or agro-residue describes all organic material produced as by-products after harvesting and processing agricultural crops. Agro-residues are non-wood lingo-cellulosic and a rich source of cellulose with lignin. These may include stalk, cane, seed pod and leaves. Agro-residues are annually renewable and a low cost source for natural cellulosic fibers. Agro-residues are of two types.


Figure 1: Classification of agro-residues