Biomass produced can be converted into wealth’
Researchers from various central and state institutions from six States converged for a brainstorming session at the ICAR’s National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) in Tiruchi last week to discuss how best to utilise the enormous amount of biomass generated in banana cultivation by evolving technologies for its commercial exploitation.
In her opening remarks, S. Uma, Director, NRCB, observed that the enormous biomass produced in banana cultivation can be converted into wealth to provide supplementary income to farmers.
She suggested adopting development of clusters for mechanical extraction of banana fibre and development of fibre banks to cater to the demands of fibre industry and sustainable business models.
Speaking to The Hindu, Dr. Uma observed that although banana fibre was being used in making handicrafts and fabrics, there was enormous scope for scaling up its applications and commercial utilisation.
The meet, she said, identified two research issues of how to improve the quality of machine extracted banana and promote their use in power looms and take them up for funding. Other applications of banana fibre in production of craters and pro-trays replacing plastics, sheets and composite boards were also discussed, she said.
The Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology, Mumbai, presented technologies for utilising fibre based products, and researchers from Navsari Agricultural University, Gujarat, briefed on the replicable model for utilisation of banana pseudostem after bunch harvest. Representatives from the South India Textile Research Association explained the technologies they had developed for spinning and yarn making to make it suitable for blending with other fabrics in textile industry.
Researchers from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, highlighted the significance of fibre based nanofilm wraps for extending the shelf life of horticultural commodities in the shelves of super markets. The Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Coimbatore, showcased their machine developed for minimal processing of central core stem.
The Confederation of Indian Industry, Tiruchi, and Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation Limited, have assured support for setting up of large scale fibre extraction units, a NRCB press release said.
A. P. Karuppaiah, President, and G. Ajeethan, Managing Director, TN Banana Producers Company Ltd.,suggested utilisation of pseudostem as a new vista of business opportunity.