Bananas are one of the most important fruits in the world. In 2013, 106 million tonnes of bananas were grown, mainly in Asia (57%) and America (26%). However, this fruit is well-known and widely consumed throughout the year. The banana is a perennial, tropical, herbaceous, and perennial crop. It belongs to the Musaceae family. Each large flower cluster produces one big flower, and then it dies. To reduce the crop, the plant is cut. The stem and leaves are then turned into lignocellulosic biomass. The bunch rachis is also converted to residual biomass once it reaches the packaging plant.
The banana waste to product ratio is 2:1. The lignocellulosic biomass can be left on the ground, or it can be taken to open dumps. The first option maintains soil moisture and provides organic matter. However, there is the possibility of spreading disease. In both cases, the lignocellulosic biomass produces greenhouse gases as it decomposes.
There is a second residue that is not lignocellulosic biomass. This is the fruit that was rejected because it did not meet the standards for commercialization. There may be a rejection rate of 8 to 20%. Although this residue can be used to feed animals, most producers prefer that these residues decompose outside for economic reasons.
The results show that 38.604 ha would produce 190,102 tonnes of discarded bananas per year (fresh matter) as well as 198,602 ha (dry matter) of lignocellulosic biomass (lignocellulosic). This means that 19 million liters could be made of bioethanol and that the power plant could produce 18 megawatts.
Why should we work so hard?
One might believe that bananas can be easily managed since they are biodegradable. Why should we work so hard?
The world is aging, and food resources are at risk. As the population continues to grow, so does the demand for our natural resources. Humans have taken our environment for granted. This is the reason we are all experiencing the current pandemic.
One thing has been made clear and transparent by the pandemic: the abundance of resources and the privileges we all have. Millions of people have realized that food is not a given and that other resources are also not guaranteed by the covid-induced lockdown. Many people have started to experiment with their own comfort zones. One of the most popular trends is to create your own vegetable/fruit garden. This is due to the lessons learned about food scarcity.
This is the right time to start using all of our plants and foods.
The banana plant is the best example of this since it produces around 20000 pounds per year from one farm. A banana plant is a normal, commercially grown fruit. However, future generations should be more aware of the potential for byproducts.
We all have the potential to make a difference by sharing our knowledge and learning from others. Let’s learn more about banana byproducts that can prove useful in a surprising way.
- The banana inflorescence is a South Asian food crop. It can be found in India, South Asia, and many other countries. Yes. Many flowers are contained within layers of bracts that are purple or maroon in color. These flowers can be used as food and eaten as vegetables.
The inflorescences of banana plants contain a lot of nutritional values. Consuming the flowers aids in improving menstrual health, preventing infections (as the flower extract has been shown to have antimicrobial properties), promoting kidney function, and reducing anxiety.
The bracts can, however, be used as colorants. It also contains subclasses like anthocyanin that give the bracts the bright reddish-purple color. Again, this is a health-beneficial product.
- Banana leaves: These banana leaves were used in India for centuries to make offerings to God. They are also used to wrap steamed food and as a platter.
Numerous researchers have discovered additional uses for banana plant leaves. The banana leaves are fibrous in texture but have their own unique flavors that can be used to flavour food. It is all due to the aldehydes, alcoholic components, and membranes of banana leaves.
These leaves can be fermented in oil with specific oils to produce a cucumber/tea-like/tangy flavour. These leaves are great for natural flavour production byproducts.
- The stem: A banana tree usually has a main stem and a pseudostem, which is a branch of that stem. Recent research shows that these pseudo stems contain high levels of bio-active ingredients like dopamine (increases antimicrobial activities), anthocyanin, and phytosterols. These bio-active components confer the pseudostem with the potential to cure many types of diseases and infections.
The stem’s basal portion is often eaten as a vegetable. These are commonly called thor/Thur, etc. in India.
- Root bulbs: These root bulbs can be eaten as well and taste almost exactly like sweet potatoes. These root bulbs are rich in nutrients, including nitrogen, glucose, and large amounts of phosphorous.
The banana byproducts are available for use in the food industry. The banana plant can be used for papermaking by other industries due to its fibrous nature. Bio-fuel can also be used to get rid of banana byproducts. The plant’s leftovers, once they are decomposed in a suitable environment, release large quantities of methane gas. The leftovers can be used for cattle feed or as animal feed once they are released.
If small-scale farmers and other industries adopt these ideas, they will not only make money but create a sustainable environment that is beneficial for all life on Earth. This is a great opportunity for young minds to explore these ideas and make a difference. It not only provides job opportunities but also encourages them to be more aware of the environment and society.