Initially underutilized and left to waste, the banana peduncle is now considered as an agricultural innovation with various potentials that can significantly improve farming, health, and income.

“Fiber and juice are the main components of banana peduncle. Various products were developed from this lowly material using readily available equipment and simple technologies. Instead of being left to rot in the field, the peduncle can be utilized and thereby can emancipate small-holder farm income,” explained Dr. Mary Ann Tavanlar, researcher from the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) based at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in a seminar organized by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

banana peduncle

The seminar on banana peduncle was based on a BAR-funded project titled, “Banana Peduncle: To Waste or Not To Waste” implemented by BIOTECH with Unifrutti Corporation, Forest Products Research and Development Institute-Department of Science and Technology (FPRDI-DOST), and Fiber Industry Development Authority-Department of Agriculture (FIDA-DA).

Every year, the Philippines generates an approximate of 2.3 million metric tons of banana peduncle and these were either utilized as compost or put to waste. This consequently motivated the project proponents, led by Dr. Tavanlar, to determine and utilize the components of peduncle for conversion into value-added products.

“Finding uses for the peduncle other than for compost was challenging,” stressed Dr. Tavanlar as she explained the rationale of the project. The peduncle, which holds the banana bunch, was found to be mainly composed of fiber and juice. These two were utilized to make various value-added products.
The fiber was used as pulp and paper products and composite fiber boards including resin-bonded and cement-bonded peduncle boards. Encouraging results were derived after the products were tested for their endurance, elasticity, and absorption.

The fiber was also processed into powdered banana peduncle (PBP) as a source of dietary fiber to make peduncle fiber-enriched meat products such as burgers, frankfurters, and re-structured ham. As a result, these meat products have higher fiber content, better moisture retention, and higher cooking yields than the meat products without PBP. Also, the production cost of meat products fortified with PBP is lower than that of the meat products without PBP.

“The reduction in the cost could be attributed to the lesser amount of meat in the formulation because this was replaced mostly by water and of PBP,” as stated by the proponents in the terminal report of the project.

Meanwhile, the juice was utilized to make a ready-to-drink calamansi juice fortified with potassium and sodium. Most commercial sports drinks contain potassium and sodium to prevent dehydration and to maintain electrolyte levels.

“Samples of sports drinks in the market contain sodium and potassium ranging fom 24.8 to 48.3 mg/100 mL and 11.7 to 19.5 mg/100 mL, respectively. Pure peduncle juice contained 455.2 and 425.8 mg/100 mL sodium and potassium levels, respectively, which were about 9-30 times higher than in the commercial sports drinks,” as stated in the project report.

The peduncle juice was also used as a potassium supplement fertilizer in hydroponics that can improve the quality of salad vegetables such as lettuce, chives, and arugula. It was also found to be an effective liquid potassium fertilizer in banana and other high value commodities such as pechay, kale, parsley, carrots, okra, eggplant, and tomato. ### (Leila Denisse E. Padilla)

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