Banana Fabric: An Eco Initiative of Creating Wealth from Waste

Eco Ideas or Green Ideas – Changing Approach of Society

An Eco Series by Vikas Singh Baghel & Ruchi Mishra

An Initiative by Mr. Mehul Shroff, Burhanpur

In this fast moving world it’s not easy to replace anything directly or easily unless or until it is very important or is efficient in any of the ways like cost or durability. As the population is increasing and that too majorly in urban areas so the use of paper and plastic both cannot be reduced or replaced very easily, both the vital things plastic and paper are derived from non-renewable resources as in petroleum and forest respectively there’s an urgent need to find the alternatives for plastic as they are non-biodegradable and remain on earth for ages.

Paper consumption was expected to go down drastically due to onset of electronic age but it is not even near reduction. Paper and plastic both are important as they are helping our information age to develop and prosper. Most importantly the traditional or conventional method of making paper is highly polluting and less energy efficient too, on the other hand the agricultural sector in India produces a vast range of natural fibres that can be utilised to produce both fibre and paper.

Natural Fibres can be defined as substances that are obtained from plants, animals, minerals or from geological processes and most important they are biodegradable over time. They can be spun into filaments, threads or ropes and can be woven, knitted, matted or bound. As they are obtained from natural sources, they do not need any formation or reformation.

While we are well exposed to man made or artificial fibre such as nylon, polyester, viscose etc. natural fibres have been gaining prominence these days. Nowadays a wide variety of natural fibres are used in traditional handlooms/textiles industries. Over the last decade with the “Go Green” and “Organic” consciousness in India, we have a lot number of ecoconscious fashion brands which are using 100% organic and natural fibres.

There are definite advantage of using natural fibres over synthetic or artificial ones even though they’re slightly more expensive and shrink too with time:

  • Natural fibres production is least harmful to environment
  • They are more resistant to fire
  • They are skin friendly
  • They are biodegradable (Most Importantly)

Among all natural fibres banana fibre has emerged as a new eco friendly innovation since it is produced from banana stem which is a waste material after harvesting banana fruit.

As if now banana fibre textile is not rigorous, if proper research is conducted on making yarns from solar charkha it would become huge potential for rural  areas. And most of industries are looking for yarn for fabric making.

This eco or green initiative in MP was well taken forward by Mr. Mehul Shroff who was born and raised in Burhanpur, he always use to wonder how to make better utilisation of banana stalks which are treated as waste post-harvest, along with his high school studies he was always willing to start his own business. With these he always knew that agriculture holds immense potential for future. So, when he came back to Burhanpur after his studies he started researching on banana stalks and found there was and is grey area for huge business.

As per him many people tried creating business from banana stalks but many failed. Because problem like transport of raw material (banana stalks) to factory become huge problem. So, he tried managing new transportation techniques for reducing the efforts, time and cost. Training of labours was another major issue on which he had tried working.

His initiative can be considered as circular economy as farmers are integral part of our economy.

His business starts from getting stalks from farmers, converting those into industrial raw material or for further process he deploys rural women for making handicrafts articles like banana fibre wicks, broom and many other things. This helps women to get equivalent daily wages and sometimes more than men.

He aims to discover potential industries who can use banana fibre and allied products from stalks also aiming to create Standard Operating Procedures so that they can accelerate farmers to become agripreneur this will create new source of income as well as employment opportunities in rural areas. He was well supported by then collector (DM) Burhanpur Mr. Praveen Singh and SABI (Start – Up Agri – Business Incubation Programme)for making this initiative a success.

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