In Uganda, a startup is making a positive change by converting discarded banana stems into useful fibres. The company, TEXFAD, considers itself a waste management group and collaborates with several farmers’ groups in western Uganda to achieve this transformation. They pay $2.7 (USD) per kilogram of dried fibre to the farmers. Additionally, they receive raw material from a third party, Tupande Holdings Ltd., which gathers banana stems from central Uganda farmers. These stems are then sorted and processed by machines to produce fine threads.
TEXFAD focuses on adding value to banana waste and creating extra income for farmers. The company’s initiative not only benefits the farmers but also contributes to the industrialization of Uganda and the improvement of the lives of its citizens.
Banana production in Uganda has been steadily increasing, with 8.3 metric tonnes produced in 2019, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. This presents a significant opportunity for the transformation of banana waste into valuable resources.
TEXFAD employs over 30 people in a village just outside Uganda’s capital, Kampala, who use their hands to craft various products from banana fibres. These products, such as rugs and lampshades, are exported to Europe. Banana fibres can be softened to a cotton-like level, making them suitable for different applications.
TEXFAD is also collaborating with researchers to explore the possibility of using banana fibres to create fabrics. In addition, they are designing hair extension products as an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic options, contributing to environmental sustainability. All TEXFAD products are biodegradable, aligning with their commitment to a greener future.
Faith Kabahuma from TEXFAD’s banana hair development programme emphasizes the environmental advantages of their products, highlighting the negative impact of synthetic fibres on the environment. TEXFAD’s hair extensions are expected to enter the market soon, offering consumers a more environmentally-friendly choice.