Kenaf, the multipurpose plant

Kenaf, the multipurpose plant

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Kenaf is a tropical plant that has a similar appearance to bamboo and is related to cotton. This plant could help with problems related to lack of food, since its leaves are rich in protein.

You can also provide quality building materials and, if that weren't enough, help the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. Additionally, kenaf also provides six to ten tons of fiber per hectare, a great source of pulp for paper production.

Origin of Kenaf

The kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus, L.) is a dicotyledon related to the gombo; It belongs to the Malvaceae family, which includes a great variety of species differentiated by the characteristics of the calyx. It is native to Southern Africa, where its primitive forms are found.

Its fiber has been used in Asia and Africa for hundreds of years. It has been cultivated in India, Pakistan and many tropical countries. At first, the consumption of the fiber was limited to the localities where it was sown, in the middle of the 19th century it was used commercially as an acceptable substitute for jute in the manufacture of burlap, sacks, ropes, twine and carpet linings. Its general introduction in the tropics was in 1941.

It is an annual or biannual plant up to 3.5 meters tall, herbaceous with a woody base, polymorphic leaves 10-15 cm long. The flowers reach 8 to 15 cm in diameter and are white, yellow or purple. The fruit is a 2 cm diameter capsule with several seeds. Its harvest cycle is about 100 to 125 days. It is grown mainly in Bangladesh.

The species of African origin of the hibiscus family, can grow up to 14 meters in height and still take three to eight times more CO2 than a normal tree.

Uses of kenaf

Bill Loftus, a retired contractor, says the plant's fiber could produce lighter concrete blocks, insulation and fire protection. After patenting the material, he began using it on two projects in Haiti and South Africa, building new homes for the homeless in areas affected by natural disasters. However, they are areas that suffer from a shortage of food resources, so the proteins of this plant are calming the hunger of the population.

Ford is already manufacturing some of the interior door material from kenaf, reducing the weight of the door padding by 25%. This translates into fuel savings for drivers.

Kenaf has a unique combination of long (bast) and short (pith) fibers, making it usable for the production of a wide range of paper and board products.

It has many uses, we have even found a very curious one, that of a bed for animals.

Anyone interested in a technical report on the plant can consult "General aspects of kenaf".




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