Gujarat Univ converts banana plant waste into useful products

Banana plant

Under a project 'A value chain on utilisation of banana pseudostem for fibre and other value added products', Navsari Agriculture University (NAU) professors have developed edible candy high in fibre and nutrition made out of central core of plant pseudostem.
The other products include fibre for textile and paper industry and organic liquid fertiliser which have been developed under the project which aims for efficient use of each and every component of banana plant.

"We have been working on the project for a year and developed a number of products using the banana plant, including edible candy," NAU professor B N Kolambe told PTI.
"This candy is made from the central core of the banana plant pseudostem, which is a nutrition-rich part. The candy has been developed on experimental basis and we are in the process of standardising the product," he said.
If parts of banana plant like leaves and pseudostem is used to develop value added products farmers would be the ultimate beneficiaries as banana is grown in large quantity in Gujarat, Kolambe said.

"A sample of the candy has been sent for certification to the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore. It is still in the initial stage and once we get the certification we would try and find partners for commercial production," Kolambe said.
The professor said that they have been working for the last one year on the project, which aims at developing technology or processes for utilisation of different parts of banana plant which are thrown away.
According to Kolambe, banana is cultivated throughout the year in over 55,000 hectares in the state.

And also looking at the demand for banana in the international market and with new technologies evolved for better yield, farmers have shown interest in its cultivation in state mainly in districts of south Gujarat, he said.
"The per hectare yield of banana crop is about 34 tonne in the state. As a result, in addition to fruit production, huge quantity of biomass (pseduostem, leaves) is generated which is discarded as waste," Kolambe said.

In the past, some researchers have successfully demonstrated use of Banana pseudostem and leaves for extraction of fibres on a small scale, he said.
"What we are developing is a technology for extracting fibre and pulp out of banana pseudostem for commercial purpose which could be used in textile and paper industry.

Presently, banana fibre in India is mainly used for handicrafts and rope, as major problem of non-adoption of fibre extraction technology is low recovery of fibres leading to high transport cost, Kolambe said.
The professor said that during fibre extraction, waste and sap (a watery solution of sugars, salts and minerals obtained from banana pseudostem) are obtained as by-products which are used for preparing enriched vermi-compost and as liquid fertiliser respectively.

"We have completed the first phase of developing technology or process. In the next stage we will standardise the process for industrial and commercial use," Kolambe said.
"In the final stage we plan to develop an effective marketing network of banana pseudostem based products and attempts will be made to popularise the developed technologies among the entrepreneurs and other stakeholders through awareness programmes," he said.

With the use of technology developed out of this project, the net profit of banana growers is expected to increase by 15-20 per cent as pseudostem fibres will be an additional source of raw material for textile and paper industries, Kolambe said.
"Not only this, use of pseudostem based vermi-compost and sap will curtail fertiliser expenses by about 20-25 per cent along with advantage of sustaining soil health," he added.

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