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Fashion entrepreneur helps womenfolk in Bihar make livelihood from banana fiber


Women in Bihar's Hajipur, known for the cultivation of the best quality of Banana nationwide, have started extracting fiber from the abandoned stems of banana for textiles under the mentorship of Vaishali Priya, a fashion entrepreneur. 

This 25-year-old has carved a niche for herself in European export market for garments and accessories by employing women from rural areas and providing them fashion-based skills development classes. 

She launched the "Surmayi Banana Extraction Project" to promote their skills in extracting organic and natural fibre products. 

With the support of the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Priya started with 30 women at Hariharpur, a village famour for banana cultivation. "Seeing its economical benefits, we got more people joining us each passing day," said Vaishali Priya. 

They are given training in the whole extraction process - stripping, soaking, combing, and spinning before the process starts. 

“These women and other members are also being trained to make products out of the final raw materials extracted from the Banana plants. In fact, Banana fibre can be used to make a number of different textiles with varying weights and thicknesses, based on what part of the banana stem the fibre is extracted from,” she said, adding that about 5-6 kg of Banana fiber are extracted daily by these women. 

“With more manpower being involved, we generate huge quantity of fiber from Banana pulps and plants”, she said, adding that the Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Hariharpur has helped them by providing a machine, and two days of training under Dr. Narendra Kumar, a senior agro scientist.

She said, "Since childhood I knew about how my small town Hajipur is one of the biggest producers of bananas and that large amounts of waste is also produced after the banana is harvested."
Therefore she chalked out a way to convert the waste to wealth in the form of textile designing. 

“The biodegradable and natural fibre is made from the stem of the banana tree and is incredibly durable.

In fact, it is one of the strongest natural fibres that can be used to make ropes, mats, woven fabrics as well as hand-made paper items and even clothes," she added.