Utilisation of banana pseudo-stem for employment and income generation in western Kenya
Vintage Fibres, Kenya
Majority of smallholder farmers in Kenya have shifted from conventional cash crop production to banana farming due to its high nutritional value. Previously, bananas were considered a semi-subsistence crop, but the shift into commercialisation has attracted many smallholder farmers to transition into commercial banana production. This makes it a source of income, nutrition, and food security. Almost all parts of the banana plant can be utilised i.e. the fruit consumed, leaves used as animal feed and processing food and flowers cooked for medicinal purposes like managing diabetics. Pseudo-stem, the focus of this project, transports nutrients from the soil to the fruits. However, this part is often underutilised and usually treated as waste. The stem is usually cut and becomes waste biomass during harvesting yet it can be used as pulp and raw material for paper and fibre for textiles. For every ton of banana fruit harvested, approximately 4 tons of biomass waste is produced, including the pseudo-stem. These are disposed into lakes and rivers or simply burnt producing harmful gases in the environment. Due to the harmful effect of the plastic bag on the environment and consequent government ban on plastic bags in Kenya, pseudo-stem fibre can be processed into re-usable carrier bags which are eco-friendly, and the resultant slurry waste is used as manure on the farm. Therefore, the project aims to propose and establish a processing plant and capacity building using a circular business model that can be implemented in some selected rural communities in Western Kenya. Currently, banana production is estimated at 1,856,659 tons, comprising over 400,000 smallholder farmers. Using a decentralised sourcing technique, this project focuses on promoting community-based enterprises. With the current poverty level being 12% in Western Kenya, the realisation of this project idea will allow double income and employment among youth and women consequently improving their livelihoods through utilising the waste for the production of environmentally friendly bags.
Keywords: Banana, circular model, eco-bags, employment, income, Kenya, pseudo-stem
Contact Address: Rodgers Oyugi, Vintage Fibres, Nairobi, Kenya, e-mail: oyugirodgers.orgmail.com