Effective January next year, Rwamagana district will be home to an unusual processing plant.
News from the district indicates that construction of a factory that will process banana fibre into garments and paper is at advanced stages.
Bananas are the most dominant crop in many districts in Eastern Province, including Rwamagana. In many parts of Rwanda bananas are a staple food.
Rwandans have grown the crop since time immemorial but they have limited its usefulness to the fruit that is normally harvested off the banana tree.
But in recent years it emerged that there is actually more to bananas than the fruit– thanks to innovation, we now know that you can get textiles, paper, building materials and other essentials from banana stems.
This technology has been applied, albeit marginally, in some countries for some time. Now it looks this technology is coming home.
Rwamagana officials say the factory that’s under construction will have the capacity to process up to 30 tonnes of banana trees a day. Those behind the project need all the support to ensure that they put up a facility that will produce as many products as possible from this newfound goldmine.
Across Rwanda bananas are in abundance. A thorough supply chain should be devised to ensure that no banana tree goes to waste.
Upon harvest, every banana tree should be delivered to the Rwamagana factory come January, until the technology has been replicated in other parts of the country.
This will certainly improve the livelihoods of the farmers and communities. No matter how much a tree will go for, it will be an added income.
We should avoid a situation where we will export banana trees only to import the subsequent products – at a far greater price.
The private sector should now jump on the opportunity and help make this venture a success.
Government should actively support innovation to make sure that such initiatives like the one in Rwamagana are brought to bear.
Let’s look out for every opportunity to maximise our resources.