The Workforce Development Authority (WDA) yesterday began a 10-day workshop on banana fibre technology at local textile company, UTEXRWA.
The workshop which brought together participants from ten cooperatives across the country, was also supported by Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), UTEXRWA, and Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
According to WDA officials, experts from India and Japan taught members of the cooperatives banana fibre extracting skills.
The idea of harvesting banana fibres in the country was initiated by President Paul Kagame after he visited the TAMA Art University in Japan last year which demonstrated to him the banana extraction technology.
According to Dr Jean Damascene Gatabazi, the WDA Director General, the President was impressed by the technology and requested the TAMA Art University to work hand-in-hand with WDA to bring the technology to Rwanda.
“We are training these people to understand the features of banana fibre and to develop the skills in making value added products from the banana stem,” said Gatabazi.
According to Rwanda Agriculture Development Authority (RADA), Rwanda produces 2.5 million tonnes of banana fruits per year and there is potential of banana fibre extraction of 2,500 tonnes per year.
Gatabazi said that government plans to establish a Banana Fibre industry that will make Rwanda the only African country to export materials from banana fibre.
He added that the project has already attracted some investors.
He said that Sustainable Health Enterprise (SHE) from the United States has already partnered with WDA for sanitary towels that will be made from the fibres.
Speaking at the official opening of the workshop, Raj-Rajendran, the Managing Director of UTEXRWA, said that their factory has purchased a banana fibre extracting machine And that the project is expected to employ over 100,000 people.