At present, some Cambodians know how to process fruits or cassava tubers, bananas, wine into candy. They also know how to process ripe palm fruit into ice cream.
Now, one a man in Takeo province can process bananas into good krama (traditional Cambodian scarves).
Meak Sorn is the inventor of the process for weaving banana tree fibres into krama. He is the manager of CoCo de Takeo Cambodia in Kus commune’s Pong Teuk Khang Tbong village in Tram Kak district of Takeo province.
He said that it took him a year to research his methods. He got the idea after he noticed that the banana trees are cut down and go to waste after their fruit is harvested, which creates a great deal of waste.
“Bananas are very useful, however, it requires processing for a lot of the uses. Bananas are not only used by me, but even in daily life people often need to use their leaves,” he said.
Born in Tram Kak district, Meak Sorn said that bananas and banana trees are not all the same and some yield more fibre than others. From his research, he determined that the differences could be related to the land they are grown on leading to some bananas to have less fibre and more flesh or water while others have fibre that is too fragile.
He added that to make one krama they have to first boil banana trees, scrape them off and remove the fibre. Then they have to clean the banana fibre and then use a khnar or reeling tool to wind it onto reels before weaving it, and the whole process takes about four days.
“When it comes to the process for the banana fibre, weaving them does not take long, but it can take a long time to process the banana fibre, but once the fibre is on the reel, it doesn’t take a long time to be woven,” he said.
He continued that as the work was still in the experimental stage, so he does not need too many banana trees yet.
The weaving from the banana tree has been done successfully, but he has not yet sold the kramas on the market because he wants to process banana fibre into fabrics or other consumer goods.
“So now, we are just weaving it as a test and we want to try to weave it into a fabric again. If we can process it into fabric, we can use it to make a lot of things,” he stated.
“This is my first processing and in Cambodia this is the first krama processed from bananas. I think this is a new product that shows the processing works,” he said.
In addition to processing bananas, he also processed ripe coconuts into cold coconut oil, coconut soap for skin, coconut candy, coconut noodles and other items.
CoCo de Takeo Cambodia has 43 employees and over 10 of them are people who were disabled by landmines. Sorn wants to show Cambodians the possibilities of processing items by hand from nature instead of using plastic and also help people in his community with jobs that don’t require migration.