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Coimbatore Scientists Mechanize Rope-Making from Banana Stem

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

To utilize the outer stem of the Banana, a machine was developed at Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering (ICAR), Coimbatore taking the fibers from the stem and then weaving the same and turning into the rope. There are 14 to 18 sheaths, out of which 5 to 7 sheaths were utilized and the coarse fibre was used to turn into the rope. With the help of the hand wheel mechanism, the efficiency has increased from 2500m to 15000m. The quality of the rope is also quite satisfactory.

Scientists at the Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering (ICAR) in the city have developed a machine to make ropes from the outer sheath of banana trees. Scientists at the institute said they had designed the machine based on the requirement of people involved in rope-making business.

The institute collaborated with the ICAR-National Research Centre for Banana, Trichy, to develop the machine, Naik said. “Once the prototype was designed and developed in 2016, it was taken to the rope-making factory where the entrepreneur tested it extensively,” Naik added.

The banana pseudostem has 14 to 18 sheaths of which the outermost five to seven sheaths are used in rope-making, as they yield coarse fibre. The machine developed by the institute consists of two components, one for splitting the outer sheath of the banana pseudostem and another for twisting the strands of the split sheath and winding them onto a bobbin.

The sheath is fed into the first machine which has two rollers, one with grooves and another with blades. Once the sheath passes through this arrangement, it is split into strands. These strands are then fed to the second machine which twists them and winds them on bobbins. The machine also has provision to vary the number of twists of the rope by varying the speed.

P M Murugesan, an entrepreneur from Madurai, who presented the problem to the scientists, said he has been using the machine for a year now. “Earlier, I was using a hand-wheel mechanism to make rope from banana sheath. It took five people per wheel for the process and each wheel yielded only around 2,500m of rope. Today, using the machine, we produce on average 15,000m of rope using one machine and with just four people in total,” said Murugesan. He said he supplies the rope to four companies in the state and one company in Bengaluru.

The institute has been involved in providing engineering solutions for farmers’ problems, said Ravindra Naik, Principal Scientist and Head. “In 2015, people involved in rope-making business approached us to develop a solution to mechanize the process of making ropes from outer sheath of banana trees. A team from our institute visited their workplace and conducted a detailed study of the existing practice. Based on this and the requirement, we designed the machine,” Naik said.

The machine has also been shortlisted for additional funding by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “We had presented our project to IFAD last year. Two months ago, representatives from IFAD had visited our institute and held discussions with us and other stakeholders,” said Naik. If funds are granted, the machine would be produced and given to selected banana farmers across the country.

The machine has been developed by scientists from the Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering (ICAR), Coimbatore, in collaboration with their counterparts from ICAR – National Research Centre for Banana, Trichy.

  • On an average, a banana plant can yield around 5kg wet or 1.5kg dried outer sheath
  • From this, 70m to 80m of 3mm twisted rope can be produced
  • From one hectare, about 2.4lakh metres of banana rope can be made
  • This would give an additional income of Rs 1lakh per hectare
  • The machine brings down space requirement by 70% to 80% and labour requirement by 65% to 70%
  • The machine on an average can produce 15,000m of rope per day.
  • The cost of the machine setup is around Rs 1.4 lakh


Using 3mm rope – fabric, bedsheets and bedspreads

Using 5mm rope – mats, light shades, window screens, bags and yoga mats

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