Thursday, November 26, 2009


Banana fruit is liked by many though it undergoes very little processing as most of the production goes for consumption in fresh form. Multinational monopolists like Dole of the US control global trade in Banana using highly developed technologies for packing, preserving and transporting, with assured premium quality. Famous names in Banana trade include Chiquita, Del Monte, Dole and Fyffes. Some of the products developed over the years that include preserved puree, dehydrated fingers, fruit bar, clarified juice etc have no significant market. The psuedostem, about 2.5 m to 8 meter long and leaves as long as 3.5 meter are field wastes generated during harvesting and their economic utilization will improve the viability of banana production very significantly. Here is a new avenue for using the wastes for producing veneers and fiber boards.

"ASX-listed Papyrus last month unveiled its Beleaf-branded banana veneer and banana fibre board products at the Monaco Yacht Show, Europe's top trade show for furniture, internal fittings, flooring and other architectural products. Beleaf is the registered trademark for a branded range of water-resistant, fire-retardant veneer and fibre products manufactured from banana trees using Papyrus' patent-protected technology. Papyrus' successful European launch at Monaco generated widespread media coverage due to the environmentally sustainable nature of the Papyrus process and the unique qualities of the banana veneer and banana fibre board products".

How far such projects are economically viable is an issue to be considered carefully. Earlier efforts in extracting starch from banana psuedostem which contains less than 1% starch were abandoned on this count. Manufacture of textile goods from banana fiber, originating in Japan in the 13th century is still being practiced in India to a limited extent. Though India accounts for almost 25% of world production of this fruit, the export trade estimated at 1 million tons, is dominated by countries like Ecuador, where multinational companies have invested heavily in developing large plantations and pseudostem based industry has a better chance to be established. Probably if the products created using the pseudostem can command high prices, banana fruit may possibly end up as a by-product!


No comments: