After harvesting of banana crop, banana plants are thrown as waste, sometimes, disposing them turns to be a trouble for the farmers. However, Ravi Prasad from Hariharpur village in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh has brought good news for banana farmers as well as for rural unemployed people. An economics graduate from Digvijai Nath PG College, Gorakhpur, he has brought an idea for making carpets, slippers, caps, pooja seats, bags, flower pots, pen stands, doormats among various other goods from banana fibre.
Due to the stagnation in employment generation, it has become a biggest challenge for the educated youth in today’s scenario to find a job. In search for job, like other educated men, Ravi migrated to National Capital, Delhi. Two years ago, with his friend he visited an exhibition at Pragati Maidan where he saw a stall of banana crafts from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. He thought, if goods can be made from banana fibre in Tamil Nadu, why can’t we make such goods from the same product as banana is cultivated around 5,000 hectare landholding in my area. Ravi urged for a help form the exhibitors to train him who asked him to come to Coimbatore.
Speaking on his initiative, Ravi says, “After getting skilled in one month in Coimbatore, I returned to my village. However, I did not have funds to start the venture. And then, I received a loan of Rs 500,000 from Union Bank of India under Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP). With this fund, I created a necessary infrastructure and mobilised women in the village and started manufacturing goods from banana fibre.”
In two years’ journey, today, around 35 women artisans are manufacturing hand-made banana fibre carpets and other goods for him. He not only developed entrepreneurship for himself, but, his self-employment initiative is providing livelihoods to a good number of women too in his village.
Earlier, after the harvesting of banana crops, the plants had been a burden for farmers. Today, by Ravi’s initiative, the plants have become a multipurpose utility. He says, “Through a machine, I separate fabrics, banana water and the waste from the plants which are used in various purposes. While the core product, fabric is used for my primary need to make carpets and other goods, banana water is used for making colours used for colouring the fabrics, and the waste is used as organic manure for agriculture which fetch me additional incomes.”
On regular basis, he participates in exhibitions to promote his products. The Uttar Pradesh government pays him Rs 10,000 if he participates for 15 days in an exhibition organised by the state which helps him paying back the EMIs of bank loan. However, he alleges that the government has not paid him the amount for long time which has culminated a due on the government of Rs 160,000. He operates a permanent outlet in Lucknow, supported by the state government. Currently, he is participating in the One District One Product (ODOP) exhibition in Prayagraj Kumbh Mela.
In an era when the educated youth are migrating from one city to another for searching of job and unemployment has become a big problem to be tackled by the governments, Ravi’s initiative has shown way to the youth in banana cultivating states in the country. According to government of India figures, banana is cultivated on 7.7 lakh hectare of landholding. It has tremendous opportunities for employment generation in the country. Organic manure produced by these types of initiatives can be a big boon for the farmlands which are suffering from organic carbon deficiency due to the excessive application of chemical fertilisers. Organic carbon is a necessary component of soil which maintains the soil fertility and water holding capacity.