Where banana fibre is turned into hair, carpet and yarn

Monday December 20 2021
Kimani Muturi displays hair extension made from banana fibre.

Kimani Muturi displays hair extension made from banana fibre. PHOTO | REUTERS


As the world moves to ban plastics and away from synthetics, a company in Uganda is making hair extensions, carpets and yarn out of banana stems.

Founder and managing director of Texfad Ltd Muturi Kimani, 51, says the idea to make the products came from two Aalto University students who were on apprenticeship at the company.

“One day the two were learning how to extract banana fibre and attached some on their hair as extensions. I was fascinated by how they looked with the fibre on their heads. Later, I thought about it and decided to implement it.”

He says his preference for banana fibre is because the plants are grown in East Africa, and are easy to access as raw materials.

“Besides, the world is moving away from synthetics. Many countries including Kenya have banned the use of polythene. The next ban could be synthetic materials that make hair extensions. Once our product is used, it can be disposed of in a garden as manure,” he says.

Farmers who supply the stems to the company are urged to cut the stem from the base. The company makes use of a banana fibre extractor, which they had to design to ease the extraction work.


“We used to take five days, but now we can make the product within a day. The machine can extract about 10kg of fibre but this capacity is still low,” says Muturi. “We use chemicals approved for manufacture of textiles that are friendly for human use,” he adds.

Muturi says there are varieties of the banana plant that are better for making hair extensions. He plans to establish a plantation that will give him material to produce a specific banana fibre product.

“We have also sampled softened banana fibre for production of fabric for garment making. Soon our clients will have banana fibre textiles as an alternative choice for their clothing. We are also working on banana leather to make shoes, belts and bags," he says.