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Possibilities with banana fibre are endless

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By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Aug 23, 2021 12:17 am
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A woman seen drying banana stem fibre at Khaibung village.

Our Reporter
Dimapur, Aug. 22 (EMN):
Products crafted from plant-based fibers are a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to textiles that have an unethical impact on the environment.

One such product is the fibre extracted from the stem of banana and can contribute to a more sustainable textile industry.

However, banana fibre extraction in Nagaland is going waste as it is not being utilised to its maximum. This was observed by the founder of Runway Nagaland, Nengneithem Hengna.

Hengna, who has been involved in creating awareness and imparting training on the value of banana fibre extraction involving farmers and women, told Eastern Mirror that her prime objective was to produce a range of products produced and made in Nagaland.

“There is hardly any product which is entirely made in Nagaland and I know this is a good solution to address many problems our state is facing. It has the potential to bring in revenue in the state and create employment, which will automatically address the issue of migration of the people to bigger cities for jobs”, she asserted.

Banana fibre, she observed, has massive scope as it is not only about making crafts but much more –from crafts to textiles to accessories to fertiliser to feeds etc — the possibilities are endless.

“Nagaland is naturally blessed so I wanted to do something with natural fibre, it is sustainable and environmentally friendly. With the right support from the government we have a scope to create it into a successful industry,” she said.

Banana farmers can earn additional revenue by selling the stem, which is otherwise usually wasted, the entrepreneur pointed out.

It was in 2018 when Hengna attended an export exhibition in Noida where she saw the products made from banana and other natural fibres and got curious. She then started exploring more and during the Hornbill Festival, she saw the extraction machine displayed by the Nagaland tool room and training centre (NTTC). She later met the officials and requested for training and that’s how the banana fibre project started.

A worker seen making a product out of banana fibre.

The extraction unit is in Athibung in Peren district and the youths of the village are trained for extraction.

“We have set up one extraction unit in Athibung and one production centre in Mon. At present two are employed in Athibung and one in Mon”, she shared.

The 2020 and 2021 lockdown proved to be very challenging for the team. Consecutively, two challenging years have affected the operation and slowed down the progress extensively.

“We are working on keeping this issue on the line. Our first extraction unit was set up in Athibung. It has nearly around 14 villages nearby and if this unit is successful it will be replicated in different areas of Nagaland solving a huge unemployment issue. We have faced lots of challenges from the time it has been initiated. 2020-2021 lockdown has affected the operation slowing down the whole operation but we are determined to make it work and one day we will definitely witness positive changes and listen to many success stories from the beneficiaries themselves,” Hengna shared.

From the time the team started working on this project, they have received a lot of positive support from the people and they will be training and employing the villagers for making crafts. On the durability of the products, she maintained that the products were durable and sustainable and gave an aesthetic look. “We can say because of the positive feedback we have received from our clients,” she asserted.

“It is said that banana fibre is as strong as the jute but we are yet to test the Nagaland fibre while request has been initiated”, she informed.

With regard to banana stem laying waste in the state although the plantations are plenty, she opined that ‘perhaps nobody tried to explore and even if they knew it they didn’t risk to start working on it’.

“Not many are aware of its resourcefulness in Nagaland and even in the Northeast, most individuals and organisations approached them,” she said.

According to her, banana fibre is said to be slowly gaining popularity while in India, the activities are done in the South.

Hengna admits that although there is no success story so far since the banana fibre extraction in the state is still at its nascent stage, she expressed hope that they would soon hear more success stories from the farmers and the artisans themselves.

6107
By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Aug 23, 2021 12:17:15 am