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Farmers Discover "Green Gold" In Banana Waste.

For many years, Kiambu banana farmers have been known mainly to grow it for food, making juice and using its fibre to make ordinary mats or ropes. The banana pseudo stems are either cut, uprooted, fed to their livestock or even thrown away after harvesting the banana fruits. Majority of these banana growers take it that its stem is only good for mulching. Very few think that they can make profit from the trunk after harvesting.

In 2014, Ndundu Royal Mothers and Fathers Sacco, a group based in Gatundu South, Kiambu County, discovered this ‘green gold’ when they were toying with the idea of empowering its members.

According to their chairperson Philip Kariuki, the sacco was formed to bring together members of this community. They started by keeping cows, rabbits and chicken before they realised that banana waste could become a source of income.

“Most of our members are dairy farmers and we are in a banana growing zone with plenty of banana trunks. We thought of how could turn the banana fibre into something useful,” Kariuki asserted.

He explains that after watching different artists making furniture using palm leaves, he decided to come up with something unique, which can make durable furniture and after research, he realised that banana fibre is one of the most under-utilised waste that was readily available.

“As I was researching I was motivated by a carpenter who was making furniture from fibre boards. That is when I realised that this was a viable business,” he said.

They improved on the invention by making their products more durable by using recycled steel. As a way of taking advantage of the abundance of the natural product, they extract banana fibre from the trunk of the plant to make household goods, furniture, handicrafts, bags and textiles.

Their innovation, the first of its kind in area, not only create employment, but also contributes to environmental conservation by reducing the number of trees being harvested for furniture.

The products are all a 100% hand-made. Their prices range from Sh400 to Sh5,000, depending on the size and type of an item.

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