HOW UGANDAN RURAL FOLK MAKE PAPER BAGS FROM BANANA FIBRE

By Serwaa Ampaafo

Uganda the second largest banana producer in the world and its ruler folks are making the best use of the banana fiber which could have gone waste. They make paper bags out of the banana fiber. 

Unlike  plastic bags, paper bags from banana fibers decompose the moment they are exposed to environmental conditions such as moisture. 

HOW PAPER FROM BANANA FIBER IS MADE

Fiber is extracted from the banana stems by removing the soft part, as the inner fiber is what is used for making paper.  Extraction for production on a small scale could be done manually but in relatively large quantities may require the use of a machine called the extractor.

The extracted fiber is thereafter washed, cut into small pieces and cooked for three hours in pots and later cooled. It is this cooked material that is mixed with water and put into the pulping machine that beats and crushes the solution into pulp, a porridge-like mixture.

Starch is usually added to create a paper product that will not be prone to water penetration and in case the desired paper is to be coloured, the intended colour is added at this stage.

The porridge-like pulp is scooped using a casting net and put it under the sun to dry. The dried material is the paper. Usually it is rough, so it is passed through a smoothening machine to give it a smooth surface. The bags are then modeled and designed.

Photo: wiki
The drying process
Photo: wiki
Final product
Photo: wiki

PLASTIC USAGE IN GHANA

Ghana, just like Nigeria and many other African countries have fairly fertile lands that can support the production of bananas to use its by-products as paper materials  to reduce plastic usage but has been purposefully notorious. 

The Open to air drainage systems allow for clogging of waste water-ways with particularly  plastics which eventually results in regular flooding of nearby areas when it rains. Water bodies are not spared either with the menace of plastic wastes.

However, there have been several attempts to ban plastics in Ghana and they have all failed due to poor legislation and implementation.

Plastics are causing more harm than good to our planet and its about time we took measures to reduce reliance on them to its minimum, if not they cannot be done away with completely. 

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