Banana Breakthrough

16:45 July 16, 2008
Kigali, Rwanda

If you asked me one month ago if I thought our journey to low-cost pad nirvana would take us to Japan, I think I’d bid you a sianora. But that, is exactly where we have ended up on the map, giving us our best technological lead so far.

A few days ago, we crashed an expert extravaganza (ie conference) on banana wilting—surprisingly a first in my book. The crash ended up to be quite fruitful (bad joke) as the expert we were aiming to meet, Svetlana, recommended we meet Yuri Mato, a Japanese environmental consultant in Rwanda, who was working on making textiles from bananas. Bingo! Kamikaze! Turns out, we have been climbing up the wrong tree (another bad joke) by talking with chemists, botanists and the like. In fact, Yuri relayed to us that it is the Tama ART University in Japan that has developed the technology to make cloth from banana fibers.

A machete and four banana stems later, the SHE team is extracting their very own fibers from freshly harvested banana trees. Once again, our kitchen and front porch have transformed into the SHE laboratories as we aim to process plant into absorbent material given the Tama Art University technique. Stay tuned for more breakthroughs!

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