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Bananas are the world's most wasted crop, but this Uganda company is creating ways for change.

Posted by Walter Gido on

Bananas are the world's most wasted crop, but this Uganda company is creating ways for change.

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 fiber 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 fibers 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  uses of banana fibers to produce 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 fibers as soft as cotton so they can be used to produce clothes. 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 fibers and be used to make paper products like bank notes among a range of possible applications. “Banana fiber is the fiber of the future,” he said

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