× Digital News Videos Health & Science Opinion Education Columnists Cartoons Lifestyle Moi Cabinets Arts & Culture Ramadhan Special Podcasts E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Travelog TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS

Uganda start-up bets big on banana waste

By Reuters | April 16th 2021
A worker weaves a wall carpet from the fibre extracted from the sheaths of banana trunks (PHOTO: Reuters)

Ugandans have always eaten a lot of bananas. Now a local start-up reckons it can extract even more value from overlooked parts of the crop.

TexFad is using natural banana fibre to produce environmentally friendly items such as carpets and biodegradable hair extensions.

When farmers lop off bananas from the trees, they generally leave the bulky, bulbous trunks to decompose and waste away. TexFad is extracting the fibres from parts of the trunks that farmers usually burn or throw away.

"When I looked around I saw that bananas grow abundantly in this country ... we generate a lot of waste from the banana gardens," said Kimani Muturi, TexFad's managing director and founder.

TexFad is experimenting with various uses of banana fibres, producing carpets and market-testing hair extension products, Muturi said.

"The hair extensions we are making are highly biodegradable," he said. "After using, our ladies will go and bury them in the soil and they will become manure for their vegetables."

TexFad is also testing a process to make banana fibres as soft as cotton so they can be used to produce clothes.

On a recent day at the TexFad plant in Mukono, just east of the capital Kampala, young men piled banana tree trunks in a heap before splitting them in half with machetes and feeding them into a machine.

Take a quick survey and help us improve our website!

Take a survey

Out came long, leathery fibres that were hung on lines to dry before being processed and used to make carpets and hair extensions.

Muturi forecast TexFad will make 2,400 carpets this year, more than doubling last year's output and boosting revenues. The firm, which has 23 employees, made about $41,000 in sales last year, its best figures since launching in 2013.

The company expects to export carpets for the first time in June, to customers in the United States, Britain and Canada.

Muturi reckons the light, organic material could replace some synthetic fibres and be used to make paper products like bank notes among a range of possible applications.

"Banana fibre is the fibre of the future," he said.

Share this story
World champion Coleman's ban reduced but still misses Olympics
World 100 metres champion Christian Coleman had his two-year ban for breaching anti-doping whereabouts rules reduced to 18 months by the Court of Arbi
Tour industry asks State for bailout amid travel ban
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates the number of visitors that arrived into the country last year stood at 47,038.