How is banana fabric made?
The steps involved in the processing of banana fibers are as follows:
Cultivation and Harvesting: A single banana plant yields about twenty-five pseudo-stems and harvesting of these stems takes place when the flower blooms. Firstly, the shaft is cut with a sickle or a knife followed by the pseudostems which are cut at the base.
• Retting: After harvesting, the next step is to remove the cementing substances that bind the fiber bundles together in the banana stem. Thus, the stem is kept in the water for a certain period of time depending on the weather conditions. The mechanism behind the process of retting is to increase the moisture content of the stalk creating an environment for the growth of bacteria or fungi which eat up the lignin and hemicellulose. The fiber bundles are about 5-8cm in width. The fibers present in the inner sheath are delicate and difficult to extract.
• Bundling and Drying: Once the fibers are extracted either by hand or using a stripping machine, they are bundled together and dried. In the wet state, it is difficult to segregate the fibers and so are kept together. However, once dried the fibers are separated on the basis of the quality i.e. those obtained from the inner peel are soft and superior while outer peel ones are coarse. This classification helps to determine the end-use of the fibers.
• Spinning and Weaving: The banana fibers are then spun into yarns. The yarns may be treated with some finish applications to impart additional properties. These yarns are then woven into textile material depending on their end-use.
• However, the process of banana fiber extraction varies slightly from region to region. In Japan, the shoots and leaves are harvested and fibers are extracted from them while in Nepal it is the trunk of the banana plant that is retted to obtain the fibers.