Sustainable innovations: IIT BHU professor trains farmers in art of turning banana stem into paper
Transforming kitchen waste/agricultural waste into paper and organic fertilisers — sounds like something our world could very well use right now, does it not?
In a rather unique approach, an IIT (BHU) Varanasi professor recently conducted a workshop in the Raipur village of Lucknow's Bithauli where he taught farmers how to turn agricultural waste into a liquid organic fertiliser and paper.
Dr Vishal Mishra, assistant professor of IIT BHU's School of Biochemical Engineering, demonstrated the transformation of kitchen waste like fruit and vegetable peels like banana stem to paper during his training session on Saturday.
A brilliant traditional paper alternative: What is the process like?
Dr Vishal Mishra, who was in the news previously for co-finding a unique bacteria capable of removing toxic hexavalent chromium metal from waste water in an economical manner, explains the process of conversion of paper from banana stem fibre.
"The fibre from the banana is removed and washed with sodium hydroxide in order to eliminate natural resins that can decrease the strength and durability of the paper. The washed fibre is used to form a stronger fibre (agricultural fibre). Then, pulp is made that is used in the production of paper," he states.
Towards the end, the beaten fibre makes up for high-quality sheets of paper using a mould and a deckle. These sheets are absorbent, durable, environment-friendly and, thus, in turn, form a brilliant alternative to the traditional paper which is made of wood-pulp fibre.
Towards an uplifted village economy
The steps in the process include harvesting, cleaning, cutting, cooking, rinsing, beating of the fibre, and finally forming and drying of the paper. Herein, bio-fertilisers can be created utilising banana peels and used tea-residue through anaerobic respiration in 15 days.
The goal is simple — besides a sustainable move, the initiative aims at educating Indian farmers in the rural areas of the country about the process and form a novel means of earning. At the same time, it aims at bolstering grassroots innovations and pave a way towards productive employment.