The plantain or banana is a fruit that can be cultivated in
any part of the country. It is also the most consumed fruit by
Sri Lankans. It commands respect in the marketplace.
Not only the fruit, but the peel of the plantain tree, flower
and core of the stem are used to make edible dishes.
The plantain tree is in itself a mine of medicinal
properties. Each part of the tree, such as the leaves,
inflourescence and the core of the stem, is enriched with
medicinal powers. In our country, we use the leaves of the
plantain tree for wrapping food as an alternative to lunch
packing paper. And we have a belief that hot meals eaten off a
plaintain leaf adds to the flavour of the food. Moreover, it is
said that it is good for our eyesight and enhances physical
When the core of the stem is used as curry (dish),the fibrous
part of the stem is removed. This fibrous part was considered
superfluous. However, the National Crafts Council (NCC), for the
first time in Sri Lanka, has deemed the fibrous part of the
plantain stem as an income generating source.
A special project has been initiated by the NCC to educate
plantain tree farmers on how to eliminate the fibres from the
stem and make elegant handicrafts from it. These fibres could be
used in the preparation of handbags, mats, rugs, carpets and
Initially, the NCC chose Embilipitiya to kick off with the
project. NCC sources said that plantain tree farmers were able
to earn an additional income of Rs.5000 from one plantain tree
through merely using its fibres productively in the making of
The NCC intends to spread the project to the other districts
as well in time to come. "This kind of initiatives are vital to
expand and uplift the handicraft industry of the country. On the
one hand, we are converting discarded plaintain fibre into an
income generating source.
"On the other hand, it opens up a number of self-employment
opportunities for rural housewives," said NCC sources.