PM Murugesan, a farmer from Melakkal village in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district, used the traditional farming knowledge passed onto him from his family and came up with an innovative solution to upcycle banana plant waste into mats and bags.
After being in the business of turning trash into useful products for over a decade, the 52-year-old was featured in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monthly Mann Ki Baat programme.
On Sunday, February 28, the Prime Minister acknowledged the agro-based entrepreneur and said, "Murugesan's innovation would not just solve the waste disposal problem but also open up new avenues of income for the farmers."
According to The New Indian Express, Murugesan dropped out of school due to financial constraints and began working in his father's field. He shared that he faced many agricultural failures while working and was also witnessing a massive amount of waste from the banana plants being discarded. In 2008, he initiated a dialogue with his wife and elders in the family to understand the possibilities of using the two outermost layers, which are the only waste generated from a banana farm, into something useful.
"Hailing from an agricultural family, I dropped out of school after class VIII and was introduced to farming by my father. We have been cultivating paddy and banana on our two-and-a-half acre land. In 2009, I thought of recycling banana fibre and turning it into a value-added product by making ropes out of it. I was ridiculed for the idea. However, I did not care and went ahead with my plan," said Murugesan.
After numerous trial and error, Murugesan went on to build a machine that could split the banana fibre. The machine prototype was a spinning machine using bicycle wheel rims and pulleys. Later, he invested ₹1.5 lakh and patented it.
"Once the machine was made, I approached the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and presented the same there. I also requested for help from the institute, and after they visited and liked my machine, they recommended this machine be used by other farmers in the area as well," he told The Better India.
He went on to set up MS Ropes Production Center which initially started with five people and now has over 350, mostly women. The company's annual turnover is 1.5 crore which is into exporting most of its products.