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Women, Youth Processing Banana Fibers Into Hair Extensions

by Joshua Kato
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The textile industry is researching on the possibility to turn banana fiber into extensions for human hair in Uganda, Kimani Muturi, the managing director of hand wooden textile, skills training and banana fiber processing at TEXFAD Skills Training Academy, has said.

This, Muturi said, is aimed at reduce imported hair extensions from China and other countries, yet Uganda has the raw materials to produce extensions for plaiting of hair.

“We want to ensure that we use the entire banana, right from being food to making juice and wine, leather, hair and dress including making shoes,” he said.

Muturi explained that banana fiber is a very good raw material in making a number of items if well utilised.

“We are currently working with researchers on the banana fiber hair extensions and hope to come up with the best results.

“Once the research is done, we intent to begin mass production of these extensions such that we can produce and compete with the imported hair extensions,” he said.

Muturi was speaking during the field visit of the executive director of World Bank African Group 1 constituency, Taufila Nyamadzabo, to the World Bank-supported project grantees under the Skills Development Facility of the Private Sector Foundation (SDF/PSFU).

Currently, Uganda is importing hair extensions from countries like China, Brazil, Malaysia and Cambodia.  

“If we properly embrace the use of banana fibers as a raw material, Uganda will become a leading producer of products made out of banana fibers,” Muturi said.

He explained that TEXFAD is now a vocational incubation business centre, where trainers and students from various universities come for training in hands-on skills.

The organisation, which deals in production of hand-woven textiles in Uganda, produces hand-made textiles and offers opportunities for work based non-formal skills training programs targeting youths and women.

The organisation transforms waste banana stems and other waste materials into high quality sustainable textile products.

Before the interventions of the world Bank skills development project, the organisation had low capacity in conducting of skills training, majorly due to challenges with availability of sustainable equipment.

“We did not have the capacity to admit intern students due to inadequate facilities to handle the large numbers. We relied on training and production of carpets from sisal from markets with low innovative development due to challenges with banana fiber extraction and access to textile waste fabrics,” Muturi said.  

He added: “We had no curriculum or formal guide to innovative skills training. The SDF supported the development of innovative banana fiber extractor machinery.”

The SDF support of sh150m, Muturi said, enabled TEXFAD to develop a curriculum that is being used in the skills training academy where about 200 women and youth are trained annually.  

The executive director of World Bank African Group 1 constituency, Taufila Nyamadzabo, applauded the organisation for transforming the lives of youth and women.

“With this transformation through the skills training, majority of those living in ghettos will be moving to permanent homes in gates,” he said.

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