A youth from Madhya Pradesh is making the best use of banana waste by recycling them into handicraft items and earning a revenue of Rs 30 lakhs. Spare a few minutes to know more about it.
Major banana growing area
A major banana-growing district, Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh has over 16,000 hectares of land dedicated solely to the cultivation of the fruit. The farmers here usually clear the stems and leaves of the banana trees from their fields before planting new crops, for which they hire extra labour. A large amount of banana waste is then dumped in pits or somewhere else, left to rot.
But one person to realise the potential of this supposed waste was Mehul Shroff, an MBA graduate from the same district. He decided to turn it into a viable business.
“From my childhood, I have seen the farmers in our area dumping the banana waste after the harvest. I, too, wasn’t aware of the huge potential it had as agricultural waste until I did some research. So I wanted to build a sustainable business and help farmers,” says Mehul.
Started in 2018, Mehul’s sustainable startup makes banana fibre out of stems, which can be turned into useful products like handicrafts, textiles and paper. Today, he sells around three to five tonnes of banana fibre every month, earning a turnover of around Rs 30 lakh annually.
More than just waste
After completing his MBA in 2016, Mehul joined his family’s jewellery business. But he always nurtured a dream of starting a business of his own.
In an effort to fulfil this dream, he began researching to find a viable and socially responsible business idea. “That’s when I met the District Magistrate of Burhanpur. When I expressed my idea to start a unique business, he suggested that I start by thinking about what I can do in my own district. This, in fact, made me search for ideas within my region,” says the young entrepreneur.
Mehul also attended a workshop organised by the district administration and Navsari Agricultural University in Burhanpur. “In the workshop, they talked about how fibres can be made from the banana stem and how it can be used in the textile, paper and handicraft industries,” he says, adding that he spent around two years on his research and finally came up with a solid business plan.
Before starting his business, Mehul made sure that he understood all the aspects of the trade, including the risks, challenges, and scope of the market. He also attended training from the ICAR-National Research Center for Banana, Tiruchirappalli, which is at the forefront of promoting banana fibre and its applications. He also interacted with the farmers of Burhanpur and shared his idea with them, garnering their support.
Mehul started his sustainable business, christened Shroff Industries, in 2018. He set up a processing unit in Burhanpur and started sourcing banana stems across the district from farmers.
Intricate works of art
Currently, he has around 40 women who make different handicraft items like baskets, planters, ropes, bags, brooms for worship, yoga mats, worship mats, wall clocks, and so on. These products are priced between Rs 100 and Rs 2,000, depending on the size and work involved.
His initiative is a blessing to many banana farmers in the region.
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