The demand of environment friendly fiber is increasing day by day. Pineapple Leaf Fibre (PALF) is a good source of environment friendly fiber but it is not well known in Bangladesh. Pineapple plant is widely cultivated only for its delicious and fragrant fruit in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The potentiality of the pineapple leaves, a major part of the pineapple plant which is presently practically unused needs global attention for its commercial importance. Bangladesh by taking a comprehensive approach towards use of PALF can open huge business prospect in fashionable value added handicraft and artisan products.
Bangladesh has huge opportunity in PALF as every year Bangladesh produce huge amount of pineapple. Despite huge availability of raw materials throughout the country, Bangladesh is far behind in productive use of PALF. Therefore, promotion of PALF based industries in Bangladesh requires interventions from the bottom of the value chain to the end users. Recently some promotional activities have started to promote pineapple leaf fiber in Bangladesh by funding support from European Union and Ministry of Industries, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh under its Bangladesh INSPIRED program.
Volume of pineapple production in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh produces 420,000 tons of from 20,000 hectors of land (3rd highest area in cultivation) and at the rate of 21 MT/hector (DAE 2011). This is the 3rd highest horticultural product and rapidly expanding sub-sector of the country. Only in Rangamati district 6242 hectors and in Modhupur 7000 hectors of land is used for commercial production of Pineapple besides homestead cultivations for consumptions. Major growing areas are Modhupur, Sylhet and three hill districts of Chittagong namely Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandorbon.
Possible amount of fibre production from Pineapple leaf in Bangladesh:
At the rate of 800 kg fiber from one hectors of land Bangladesh can produce 16000 MTs of fine quality fibers from Pineapple. According to this estimation only from Modhupur around 5,600 MTs of best quality pineapple fibers can be extracted for the use of textile and handicraft products. Every pineapple tree bear 42 to 60 leaves and every leaf contains 40 to 60 fibers of average 1.25 meter long and thus every plant can yield about 300 meters of long fibers.
Employment and income:
The PALF extraction and weaving industry may allow people the income and employment opportunities needed to substantially improve their lives. This will lead to huge potential and economic rewards for indigenous weavers, their families and their communities thus improving the living and benefit the country.
Extraction of fiber, weaving and embroidery jobs enable women especially to earn money that allow them to remain in home rather than being forced to join hazardous and non-prestigious jobs (brick field, rice mills or domestic workers). Since pina fabric can be blended easily with other natural and synthetic fibers therefore, a range of new products can be developed and marketed.
The Philippine case:
The process of PALF extraction, spinning and weaving is very time consuming. For example, it takes around 5-7 days to get dried ready fibers for weaving through the extraction process. A weaver working 8 hours per day on a plain weave can finish one meter of cloth a day. These eavers can earn from P500 to P900 in Philippine per month which is equivalent to $105 to $109 USD. But, the designers and retailers are making most money than the local weavers and extractors there in Philippine.
Therefore, Pina products are considered a work of love and patience and thus a pina garment is considered as an heirloom.
An industry approach is needed:
Although, profit margins from pina products (comparing to others) seems small but it can be promoted as a profitable industry if associated with other natural fibers products. In order to fully revive this traditional industry, cooperatives/clusters need to work together for development, funding and international fair trade. As pina fiber production gains momentum, thousands of jobs for weavers can be created since the raw materials are abundantly available as an agricultural waste in the country.
Innovation and value addition opportunity could be achieved by taking pragmatic from design to market development. Pineapple fibers can be used for producing dozens of essential household products and handicraft items targeting to growing export market worldwide. Specialized fashion products and use of green handicraft labels would add huge value on the products.
Promoting Pineapple Leaf Fiber:
Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) and BURO Bangladesh jointly organized a workshop for commercial expansion of pineapple leaves fiber-based products on 30th May 2016 at Zonal Office at Modhupur in Tangail district under the project ‘Socio-economic empowerment of women through promotion of natural fiber-based products from agricultural wastages’. BWCCI in partnership with BURO Bangladesh has been implementing the project to build capacity of 2000 women entrepreneurs for producing handicrafts from banana and pineapple fiber, thus to reduce poverty and empower women with the funding support from European Union and Ministry of Industries, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh under its Bangladesh INSPIRED program.
Global awareness about a pollution free environment is being built-up and people, in general, are becoming more inclined to the use of natural fiber products which are not only environment friendly, abundantly available, renewable and cheap but also serve the intended purpose. The rising costs of oil, together with a greater awareness of the environment and advances in technology, are creating an increasing market for natural fibers. So as a natural fiber PALF has a bright future and arena to perform in the forthcoming years and will get popularity in Bangladesh as it is economically viable and remunerative for the pineapple cultivators and entrepreneurs.