A team of researchers at the UET Lahore, Faisalabad Campus, led by Prof. Dr. Mohsin, Chairman, Textile Engineering Department, has made value-added textile products using Okra (Lady Finger) waste. Dr. Aamer and final year BSc textile engineering students Ali Asadullah, Ms Muqaddas Iqbal, and Talha Amin are part of the research team.
In Pakistan, mostly plant and other waste is burnt which leads to further pollution and toxic smoke and in winter it creates lot of health problems in our country. Pakistan is the 3rd largest producer of Okra in the world. It is cultivated in over 45 thousand acres in the country leading to the annual production of over 180 million KG Okra. This leads to approximate stem waste of around 335 million Kg annually. By using our innovative technology and optimize blending with cotton it can lead to more than Rs 54877 million textile export from okra stem waste.
Despite the ease of availability and low cost, okra fiber is technically harsh and difficult to convert into yarn, fabric, and dyed form. Therefore, its usage is limited worldwide and especially in Pakistan. However, UET Textile team has developed the innovative and chemical free process to overcome the above technical issues. Okra fiber was blended with cotton and yarn was produced at the state of the art mini spinning lab which is first and only of its kind in Pakistan. The fabric was also produced and dyed with natural dye by using UET Textile department another Intellectual Property (IP) based technology, thus making the whole process bio based and organic.
“Okra fiber is cheaper than cotton, raw material is easily available rather wasted, its strength is better and top brands are asking for such sustainable products and willing to pay the premier price,” said Prof Mohsin. “This technology is not only sustainable, but it can make Pakistani textile industry more competitive with the attraction of more top brands,” he added.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Syed Mansoor Sarwar, has commended efforts of the team. He said, “Our Textile Department is also producing a range of value-added products from various agro waste and has already successfully developed value added fabric from banana waste and recycle cotton.” “Our researchers’ efforts will make our country more clean, green, and pollution free by better utilization of its waste and can promote value-added textile products with the label of ‘Made in Pakistan’,” added Dr Sarwar.