Fabrics and textiles woven from fine quality banana fibre could be the next big thing for consumers all over the country if research carried out by the National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) Tiruchirapalli bear fruit.
The NRCB has joined hands with the Central Institute of Cotton Technology in Mumbai, with the aim of producing quality fibres by improving the retting process, adding certain non hazardous chemicals to banana fibre to produce lengthy fibres, with adequate strength and lustre.
NRCB Director Dr M M Mustafa said this process was thought of as banana fibre drawn from the stem of the plants is brittle and long fibres cannot be drawn from it.
He said NRCB had obtained special varieties of banana plants from the Philippines and the Middle East, which yield only the fibre and not the fruit or flower. However tests like long term durability of the fabric, retention of fast colour dyeing and stitching capabilty had to be done before the technology could be transferred to commercial production.
He said NRCB scientists were evolving a method by which banana stem juice could be made to powder form, which has curative properties in treating diseases like kidney stones. Once perfected, the technology would be transferred to pharmaceutical industries, he said.
The centre has also developed a patent technology to extract wine from banana skin and had joined hands with a group in Belgaum in Maharashtra to commercially produce banana wine. A pilot plant would soon be set up, pending approval from the union government, he said.