Tropical Research Reference Platform

Published Date: 24th August 2020


After harvesting, and processing the banana fruit, the remaining plant parts, made up of pseudo-stem, leaves and fruit peels constituting about 80 percent of the plant can be processed into livestock feed since they contain some nutrients. Banana and plantain pseudo-stem and leaves are particularly the major wastes left in the field after harvest. The banana root base or weevil, which is the banana plant stem under the soil surface is also left to produce new suckers. A yield of about 60 - 80 tons/ha/year of banana pseudo-stem and leaves has been estimated in some Asian countries. Traditional methods of managing these waste at production locations have mostly been to use them as mulch, manure, and animal feed. Different parts of the banana and plantain plant have been used to feed livestock in different parts of the world. Their use in livestock feeding, however, varies considerably at different tropical locations. For example, in many Asian countries, banana trunk and leaves are processed into pig and ruminant feeds, while in Africa it is common practice to feed the fresh leaves to ruminants. In places where banana fiber extraction technology has not developed, processing the pseudo-stem, and the leaves into animal feeds as a cheap waste conservation technology has high prospects. Studies on direct substitution of banana leaves and pseudo-stem as forage for ruminants with significant effects on carcass weight and milk yields have been reported.

Banana pseudostem and leaves are however generally low in nutritive value and high in moisture content. The major drawbacks to their use as sole feed for livestock are their low protein and high fiber contents, low digestibility, and presence of anti-nutrients like tannin and alkaloids. Therefore, several research approaches such as crushing, microbial degradation, and enzyme treatment have been used to improve the nutrient values of banana wastes for livestock feeding. Farmers have also combined them with other agro wastes in order to improve their feeding values. For example, rural farmers in Cambodia, have traditionally mixed banana pseudo-stem and rice bran to produce more nutritious pig rations.

Nutrient composition of pseudo-stem and leaves

The nutritional composition of the banana tree varies according to variety, age, and plant components. Generally, it is low in nutritive value, and higher fiber and water content. The leaf rich in beta-carotene, which serves as a precursor of vitamin A, while the pseudo-stem is a rich source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6. The nutrient compositions of the stem and leaf are shown in table 1. The pseudo-stem has high ash content comprising mostly potassium (33.4 percent), calcium (7.5 percent), magnesium (4.3 percent), silica (2.7 percent), and phosphorus (2.2 percent). It is however low in lignin content compared to other plants. The order of essential mineral elements in the banana pseudo-stem and leaves has been reported as Potassium> Calcium> Magnesium> Phosphorus> Manganese> Iron> Zinc> Copper. The proximate composition of banana root base or weevil has also been reported as 6.20 - 13.87 dry matter, 2.99 - 3.4 percent crude protein, 0.96 - 7.00 percent crude fat, and 9.99 - 16.10 percent crude fiber. Flour produced from the root base has been shown to contain 66.20 percent carbohydrates and 5.88 percent protein, indicating that it can be used as an energy source for livestock.

These nutrient values show that all parts of the banana plant can serve as a feedstuff for livestock. Their digestibility in ruminants has however been reported as 75 percent for the pseudo-stem and 65 percent for the leaves. The leaf contains much higher total phenol (8 percent) than the pseudo-stem (4.5 percent) but lower in condensed tannin concentration which has been shown to affect its nutrient value. Other phytochemicals such as terpenoids and flavonoids in the leaves have been shown to exhibit anti-parasitic properties, especially against worms.

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Plate 1: Banana leaves and trunk (Source:

Processing to improve the nutrient values of banana pseudo-stem and leaves
Since banana pseudo-stem and leaves constitute the main bulk of banana wastes left in the field, treatments that could significantly increase their nutritional values could be of tremendous economic benefit to the livestock industry. Specifically, innovative technologies that target moisture reduction and conversion of their high fiber to more digestible nutrients, either by fermentation, enzyme treatment or supplementation of extra nitrogen sources have been researched. It is also important that other constraints such as perishability of the stem due to high moisture content, and the high tannin content, which may bind proteins, and reduce diet quality be addressed through appropriate processing techniques. Mechanical grinding or manual chopping into smaller pieces has been used to speed up the drying of the pseudo-stem, while anaerobic fermentation has been used to prevent the decay process and reduce tannin content. Co-fermentation with nitrogen-rich feedstuffs like cocoyam, and cassava leaves or the addition of other chemicals such as sulfur, phosphorus, and nitrogen in form ammonia and urea, have been used to improve the nutrient value of banana wastes.

Researchers at Hue University, Vietnam, investigate the nutritive effects of co-fermenting banana pseudo-stem and rice bran with yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) under the anaerobic conditions at the ratios of 80:20, 60:40 and 40:60 and fermentation times of 0, 1, 3, 5 and 7 days. They found that both the dry matter, crude protein, total ash, and true protein contents of the fermented banana pseudo-stem increased significantly, while the crude fiber decreased from 31.65 to 15.55 percent, especially by the seventh day of fermentation. They also reported that the introduction of yeast solution as a starter further improved the nutrient value of the end product. In another study at Sam Ratulangi University, Indonesia, researchers fermented banana leaves with Trichoderma viride over 5, 10, and 15 days. They recorded an appreciable increase in crude protein (9.24 – 14.42 percent), a decrease in crude fiber (18.74 – 10.22 percent), and a marginal increase in metabolizable energy (3810 – 3915 Kcal/Kg), indicating that fermentation with T. viride enhances the nutrient value of banana leaves. In a similar study at the same university, researchers fermented banana pseudo-stem with T. viride and reported that at a dose of 0.6 percent for 8 days the best nutritional content changes (Ash 20.17 percent, crude protein 21.69 percent, crude fiber 14.94 percent, and crude fat 20.17 percent) were achieved.

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Plate 2: Pulverizing fresh banana pseudo-stem for use as animal feed (Source: Patrick Trial)

Researchers at the China Agricultural University, Beijing, have also determined the effect of ensilage time (0, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90 days) in polyethylene bags on the chemical composition of banana pseudo-stems. They reported that water-soluble carbohydrates significantly decreased (19.75 and 7.25 g kg-1) at day 20 and 30 respectively of ensilage and leveled off by day 50. Again, after 50 days of fermentation, crude protein was increased significantly (27.90 - 52.45 g kg-1.). No significant change was observed in dry matter, acid detergent fiber, and total and condensed tannin values, while neutral detergent fiber was increased significantly after 20 days of fermentation. The study, therefore, showed that 50 days is the optimal ensiling time for banana pseudo-stems and that ensilage could be used to conserve banana pseudo-stems for use during periods of feed scarcity.

Green banana waste (pseudo-stem + leaves) have also been treated with cellulolytic enzymes to improve its utilization by animals. In a study at the National Research Center, Dokki, Gaza, Egypt, a laboratory-produced, and a commercial cellulolytic enzyme (Bacillozym®) were used to treat the banana waste at 0.77, 1.54, 2.31 and 3.08 unit/Kg dry matter, with the commercial enzyme recording the highest dry matter and organic matter disappearance at the 1.54 unit/Kg dry matter treatment level. This implies that the enzymes were able to degrade the complex cellulose in the banana waste into simpler ones making them more utilizable by animals.

The nutritive value of banana pseudo-stem and leaves for poultry

Limited information is available in the literature on the use of banana pseudo-stem and leaves in feeding poultry. The high cellulose content of the leaves may limit their utilization by birds, therefore, fermentation may be used to reduce the fiber content, and enhance their utilization by poultry. Researchers at Sam Ratulangi University, Indonesia, fed banana leaves fermented with the fungi, Trichoderma viride, at 5, 10, and 15 percent inclusion levels in the diet for four weeks of broiler finisher period. They reported that feed intake, daily weight gain, feed efficiency, and carcass yield were highest amongst the group fed 10 percent banana leaves fermented for ten days, indicating 10 days of fermentation with T. viride, and 10 percent inclusion were optimal for finisher broiler performance. The effect of ensiled banana stem and taro cocoyam foliage mixtures as partial replacement of rice bran in the diet of growing common ducks was also evaluated by researchers at Angiang University, Vietnam. Banana stem and taro cocoyam foliage (leaves and petioles) were chopped into small pieces (1 - 2 cm in length) and mixed in the ratio of 50:50, and sun-dried for half a day before being ensiled in a plastic bag for seven days. The silage was used to replace rice bran in duck diets at the rate of 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 percent. Results of the study showed that although feed intake decreased, feed conversion ratio, and live weight gain were improved when the banana stem-taro foliage silage replaced rice bran up to the 30 – 40 percent level in the diet of the growing ducks.

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Plate 3: Chopped mixture of banana pseudo-stem and taro cocoyam leaves (Source: Tien et al., 2013)

Researchers at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, Brazil, have also studied the productive performance, egg quality, and the endo-parasites presence of laying hens fed diets, supplemented with fresh banana leaves. The banana leaves were dried in a shed, ground into a coarse powder, and included in the diet at the rate of 40 grams per bird per day for a period of 21 days. They reported that the inclusion of banana leaf in the diet of the laying hens did not affect laying performance, but improved yolk pigmentation, and reduced worm presence in the birds by 26.54 percent. These studies show that there is a need for some form of processing such as fungal fermentation and enzyme treatment before banana leaves could be utilized in poultry feeding.

The nutritive value of banana pseudo-stem and leaves for poultry pig

Banana foliage is fed to pigs in many tropical countries, especially during periods of feed shortage. The pseudo-stem and leaves can be fed separately or mixed together, fresh or sun-dried. Studies of the rural pig feeding systems in Cambodia and Indonesia show that banana pseudo-stem features prominently among other agricultural wastes such, taro stem, broken rice, rice bran, and kitchen wastes as a preferred feedstuff for pigs. Banana leaf meal may possibly replace up to 15 percent dry matter in growing pig of diets, without any deleterious effects on weight gain, and feed conversion ratio. Since the fresh banana or plantain pseudo-stem contains very high moisture, and low protein, vitamins, and minerals, it is advised that they should be fed together with appropriate supplements. Again, the pseudo-stem may be ensiled with easily fermentable carbohydrate-rich feedstuffs like molasses or rice bran to improve its nutrient value for both growing, fattening, and lactating pigs.

Early studies at the Swine Research Institute, La Habana, Cuba, in which plantain foliage was fed to pigs at 10 and 20 percent inclusion in the diet recorded decreased digestibility of most nutrients, indicating that plantain foliage meal should be included at low levels in pig's diet in order to avoid a negative effect on growth performance. Similarly, a Hawaiian study recommended that not more than 25 percent of banana silage should be used as part of pig ration. In another study at the Souphanouvong University, Luang Prabang, Lao, researchers investigated the effects of adding protein-enriched cassava root meal in a banana stem-based diet on the growth performance of local pigs. The dry matter intake, live weight gain, feed conversion ratio, and apparent dry matter digestibility of the pigs improved as the percentage of protein-enriched cassava root meal in the diet was increased.

In another study, growing pigs were fed a basal diet of ensiled banana pseudo-stem, taro cocoyam, broken rice, and soybean supplemented with either 4 percent rice distillers’ by-product of one percent biochar. Weight gain improved by 20.1 and 22.9 percent in response to the biochar, and rice distillers by-product supplementation respectively, while no synergistic effects of combining the two supplements were observed. The feed conversion ratio was however relatively improved by 10.6, 12.2, and 9.3 percent respectively. These improvements were attributed to the ability of the biochar and the rice distiller’s by-product to bind toxins in the feed, thereby improving the enteric ecology of the animals. These studies generally confirm the need to supplement banana foliage-based diets with appropriate ingredients and additives in order to improve their nutritive values for pigs.

The nutritive value of banana pseudo-stem and leaves for poultry ruminants

In the ruminant production system, roughages such as banana forage (leaves and pseudo-stem) that consists mainly of lignocellulose material are readily available, and cheap feed resources. Several Asian studies have therefore investigated the value of processed banana forage in ruminant feeding, in relation to its low protein, high fiber content, low digestibility, and presence of anti-nutritional factors. Garcia and coworkers reported that inclusion of up to 40 percent banana leaves in forage ration improved weight gain and feed efficiency of zebu cattle and sheep, while fresh banana leaves could be added up to 15 percent in the diets of lactating cows without any significant change in lactation performance.

Researchers at the R.B.S. College, Bichpuri, Agra, India, investigated the performance of growing calves fed wheat offal, and chaffed dried banana pseudo-stem in the ratio of 100:0, 90:10, 80:20 and 60:40, and found that body weight gain was apparently reduced when banana pseudo-stem was incorporated more than 10 percent in the diet. However, no relationship could be observed between feed intake and body weight gain of the calves. The feed cost/100g body weight gain was lowest with the 90:10 ratios and highest with the 60:40 ratios of incorporation as a result of the higher gain in body weight and minimum feed intake achieved with the 90:10 ratios. Other experiments have shown that ruminants digest the pseudo-stem better than the leaves, although a linear decrease in the voluntary intake and digestibility of dry matter as the proportion of the pseudo-stem increases in the diet has equally been reported. Researchers have also demonstrated the value of commercial cellulase enzymes supplementation in improving the nutrient value banana forage and growth performance in ruminants. Researchers at the National Research Center, Dokki, Gaza, Egypt, evaluated the effects of feeding commercial cellulolytic enzyme (Bacillozym®) treated banana forage on the performance of lactating goats. The experimental diet contained 25 percent banana forage, and at 1.54 UKg-1 enzyme treatment, the lactating performance of the goats was improved without adverse effects on their health.

Again, the low crude protein, and dry matter contents of the pseudo-stem, and lower digestibility of the leaves, effects their dry matter intake by ruminants and therefore warrants that banana forage-based diets should be supplemented with extra protein, and energy sources, such as starchy roots, high protein leaf meals, rice wastes, molasses, and urea. For example, a Seychelles study observed that crossbred Jersey calves fed banana pseudo-stem residue supplemented with urea, molasses, and Leucaena leaves improved in their growth rate. Again, banana foliage and wheat straw mixed at the ratios of 75:25 and ensiled with molasses, and urea was reported to replace 50 percent of green maize foliage in the diets of lactating cows without adverse effect on milk yield. Khattab and coworkers also incorporated 15 percent of ensiled banana foliage/broiler litter (40:60), and molasses in the diets of lactating buffaloes, and reported no adverse effects on milk production.  


Banana pseudo-stem and leaves have experimented as alternative feed raw materials for feeding poultry, pigs, and ruminants in many tropical countries. Fermentation with Trichoderma viride holds better promise in improving the nutrient values of these banana wastes. Again, mixing the banana wastes with other raw other feedstuffs like rice bran, taro leaves, and root tuber meals help to improve their feeding value in all livestock.

Bibliographic references

Azzaz, H.H., Kholif, A.M., Murad, H.A., Hanfy, M.A., and Abdel Gawad, A.H. (2012). Utilization of cellulolytic enzymes to improve the nutritive value of banana wastes and performance of lactating goats. Asian Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances, 9(8): 664 – 673.

Mandey, J.S., Leke, J.R., Kaunang, W.B., and Kowel, Y.H.S. (2015).  Carcass yield of broiler chickens fed banana (Musa paradisiaca) leaves fermented with Trichoderma viride. Journal of the Indonesian Tropical Animal Agriculture, 40(4): 229-233.

Manivanh, N., and Preston, T.R. (2016). Replacing taro (Colocasia esculenta) silage with protein-enriched cassava root improved the nutritive value of a banana stem (Musa spp) based diet and supported better growth in local pigs (Moo Laat breed). Livestock Research for Rural Development, 28(5): 2016.

Matos e Silva, N.E., Lima, H.J.D., Valentim, J.K., Tossué, F.J.M., Bittencourt, T.M. and Velarde, J.M.D. (2019). Banana leaf in the diet of laying hens in cage free system. Acta Scientiarum. Animal Sciences, 41, e46908, 2019.

Tien, D.T.M., Tran, N.T.B., Hang, B.P.T.,  and Preston, T.R. (2013). Silage of banana pseudo-stem and taro foliage as replacement for rice bran fed to common ducks. Livestock Research for Rural Development, 25 (4) 2013.

Sen, B., Singh, J., Verma, T., and Patel, P.R. (2014). Performance of growing calves fed on banana (Musa paradisiaca) stem. The Bioscan, 9(1): 121-123.

Sokchea, H., Hong, T.T.T., Ngoan, L.D., Phung, L.D., and Borin, K. (2018). Nutritive value of fermented banana pseudo stem (Musa spp) and rice bran by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. International Journal of Agriculture Innovations and Research, 7(2): 2319-1473.

Wandi, A.S. (2016).  Effect of complete feed containing varieties of stone banana stem on Kacang goat productivity. Bangl. J. Vet. Med., (2016). 14 (1): 69 - 77.

Wanga, C.F., Muhammada, A.U.R., Liua, Z.Y., Huang, B.Z., and Cao, B.H. (2016). Effects of ensiling time on banana pseudo-stem silage chemical composition, fermentation, and in Sacco rumen degradation. The Journal of Animal & Plant Sciences, 26(2): 339-346.

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