One of the most common and lucrative crops across the world, the banana plant is a vital aspect of India’s gastronomic history. While seasonal fruits may come and go, the one fruit which is constant in every Indian household, irrespective of demographics, is the humble banana.
Everyone is well aware about the fruit’s ‘heavyweight’ nutritional content.
Bananas are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals including potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6, which together contribute to the good health and proper functioning of our bodies.
The benefits don’t just stop at the fruit. The eco-friendly tradition of eating food from banana leaves is as ancient as the Indian civilisation and is quite a common sight in Kerala during festive occasions.
But one of the most overlooked parts of the plant is its stem that often goes to waste after the culmination of production. While in many parts of India, the tender core of the stem is a part of local cuisines, the utilisation of the banana stem has found little scope in India, which is strange because the country leads the world in banana production.
In Indonesia, the banana stem refuse is used as a planter for growing short-root plants; and if adopted in India, this simple yet ingenious implementation can surely have a positive effect on the agrarian scenario of the country and reduce tonnes of banana plant wastage that occurs on a regular basis.
By digging appropriate holes (according to your crop or garden plant’s features) in the stem with a knife, you can fill these with soil and plant the seeds or saplings into the pits.
For proper crop aeration, balanced growth, and avoid clustering, one needs to make sure that the spacing between the seedlings is at least between 30-40 cm. Also, using good loamy soil while filling the holes before planting is advisable, to facilitate the good growth of plants.
Because of the stem’s fantastic water retention abilities, one need not irrigate the plants manually as they absorb water from the stem and nutrients from the soil filled in the pits. This property makes the idea even more viable for Indian farmers, especially in regions with acute water shortage; and will save them from the trouble of shelling out vast amounts of money for various irrigation methods.
However, the best part about the banana stems is that these last for a really long period of time and when the stems finally decompose, they end up enriching the soil all the more.
Besides, with this mode of cultivation, chances of weed infestation remain relatively lower.
The method need not be limited to only farmers and agricultural institutions. Anyone can try it in their backyard or garden as banana stems are readily available in the markets, and there is no requirement of any form of technical know-how for it. Additionally, space and resource constraints generally associated with urban agriculture can quickly be reduced through banana stems.
Encouraging the availability of vegetables around the year irrespective of the season, banana stem cultivation has the potential to become the next revolutionary hack in the field of agriculture and especially in India, by bringing in respite and good returns to the farmers.
You can also learn how to make a banana stem planter from this video:
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)