What is the banana fabric?
Banana is a bast fiber extracted from the pseudo-stem of the plant and has the scientific name as Musa acuminate. Banana fibers are extracted from the agro-waste as when the fruits are harvested, the trunk of the plant is thrown which is then utilised by the textile sector for extraction of fibers. According to the statistics available about 4 billion tonnes of bast fibers is produced yearly.
The banana plant is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of the world and concentrated towards the Asian countries. While the technique of fiber extraction is believed to be first developed in the Philippines and was used for making shirts and dresses for its lightweight and high moisture absorbency.
It is believed that banana was first cultivated around 8,000 BCE in the Kuk Valley of New Guinea. While other cultivation lands might happen to have located in SouthEast Asia and the South Pacific regions. As per the evidence’s available utilisation of banana stem for its fiber is an old technique of about 13th century. The potential of banana was also explored in Japan and Nepal where the fibers extracted from outermost sheath were woven into cloth for the purpose other than apparel while the mats were woven of coarser banana fibers.
Additionally, in Japanese culture, the ceremonial garments also constituted of banana fibers which were worn by the wealthy as the banana fabric was considered as a prized commodity often compared with silk. The Western countries such as the United States later came to know about the banana fabric.
But with the coming up of natural fibers such as cotton and silk, the use of banana fabric almost reduced eventually with a shift towards more organic and sustainable sources use of banana fabric is increasing.
Banana has now started to emerge as a fiber with great potential and is used in the apparel sector for its properties such as high strength, durability and biodegradability. Banana fabrics are often blended with other natural and synthetic fibers. Banana fabrics are classified on the basis of fiber extraction i.e. the fibers derived from the inner peel are delicate and soft while those obtained from the outer peel are coarser and used making mats, ropes and thick and durable garments.