Raffia palms (Raphia) are a genus of about twenty species of palms native to tropical regions of Africa, and especially Madagascar, with one species (R. taedigera) also occurring in Central and South America. R. taedigera is the source of raffia fibers, which are the veins of the leaves, and this species produces a fruit called "brazilia pods", "uxi nuts" or "uxi pods".
The sap of the palm can be fermented into raffia wine. It is traditionally collected by cutting a box in the top of the palm and suspending a large gourd to collect the milky white liquid. Unlike oil palms, this process kills the tree. Sap from both the raffia and oil palms can be allowed to ferment over a few days. When first collected from the tree, it is sweet and appears slightly carbonated. As it ages more sugar is converted. Raffia wine tends to be sweeter at any age when compared to oil palm wine. Both kinds of palm wine can also be distilled into strong liquors, such as Ogogoro. Traditionally in some cultures where raffia or oil palm are locally available, guests and spirits are offered these drinks from the palm trees.
In local construction, raffia fibres are used for ropes, with branches and leaves providing sticks and supporting beams, and various roof coverings. The people of Ogba kingdom in Rivers State and other southern Nigerians use raffia palm fronds as fishing poles. The frond is usually cut from a young palm tree. The leaves are removed and the stake is dried, which becomes very light, and the hook is attached to a line, which is tied to the stake, making it a fishing pole.
The raffia palm is important in societies such as that of the Province of Bohol in the Philippines, Kuba of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nso of Cameroon, the Igbo and Ibibio/Annang/Bahumono of Southeastern Nigeria, the Tiv of Northcentral Nigeria and Southwestern Cameroons, the Urhobo and Ijaw people of the Niger delta Nigeria and the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria, among several other West African ethnic nations.
A strand of raffia has a maximum length of about 1.5 m and an irregular width. When found on spools or hanks of greater lengths, it is likely synthetic raffia, produced from polypropylene. First produced by Covema in collaboration with Sulzer, a manufacturer of flat weaving looms for natural fibers, who adapted their looms to process synthetic raffia. These fabrics are used to make carpet backing, protective sheets, and bags for rice, potatoes, and citrus fruit. Covema also developed a method to cover raffia fabric with a thin film of polyethylene in order to make it waterproof.
The Raffia Palm is medium sized tree. It has a large reddish bulbous trunk and large feather palm leaves. Raffia Palms can be easily located all around the rain forest. They can be chopped down by most weapons and tools and produces palm leaves and dry leaf.
Raffia palm wine is a natural drink from the stem of Raffia palm (Raphia hookeri) tree with nutritional and medicinal properties. The effect of fermentation was investigated on its antidiabetic and antioxidative effects in yeast cells and pancreatic tissues, respectively. Both unfermented and fermented palm wine significantly increased glucose uptake, reduced glutathione level (GSH), superoxide dismutase, and catalase activities. They also inhibited glucose diffusion, myeloperoxidase, and ATPase activities as well as decreased malondialdehyde and nitric oxide levels. They also led to the inactivation of oxidative metabolic pathways in oxidative pancreas with the generation of adenosine, sugar and inositol metabolites, selenium (enzyme co-factor) and vitamin metabolites owing to concomitant activation of vitamins, lipid, steroids, inositol, and sulfate/sulfite metabolic pathways. The results suggest the antidiabetic and antioxidative potentials of unfermented and fermented palm wine and may be attributed to the LC-MS-identified compounds which were mainly polyphenols and its glycosides, vitamins, and amino acids. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Raffia palm wine is among the natural beverages employed for social, nutritional, and medicinal purposes. However, there are limited studies on its medicinal properties. This study reports for the first time, the ability of Raffia palm wine to stimulate glucose uptake, inhibit glucose diffusion, and ameliorate pancreatic oxidative injury, as well as the possible associated metabolic pathways that may be involved. These findings will further contribute in understanding the antidiabetic effect of Raffia palm wine, and the possible metabolic pathways involved.
Natural, renewable raffia fiber, harvested from the leaves of the palm, are adhered to a matte ink background or metallic foil to create an abstract textural striation. The finishing touch is a gently applied overlay of painterly inks.
Raphia hookeri or commonly known as Ivory Coast Raffia Palm is a palm species native to Africa that can be about 10m in height. It is characterized by its compound pinnate leaves with each leaf reaching about 12m long, shiny dark green, and feather-like. It is a solitary palm and usually up to 30cm in stem diameter. The flowers and the top-shaped fruits are brown in color. A monocarpic plant, Ivory Coast Raffia Palm produces inflorescence only once then dies. The fruit is used in traditional medicine as laxative and liniment for pains. The plant has edible uses. Sap from the trunk is fermented into palm wine and fruits are boiled and eaten. The fruits, however, are poisonous if consumed raw. Other edible parts are the apical bud, starch obtained from the stem, and fruit oil. Further, among its many uses, Ivory Coast Raffia Palm is a source of a soft but strong fiber which is used to make mats, hats, baskets, hammocks, etc. Such fiber can also be made into paper. The leaves are used as thatching material while the leaf midribs and leaf stalks are used as poles and to construct the framework of houses. The wood is used for construction.
Edible Parts: Apical bud Flowers Fruit Oil Sap StemEdible Uses: Drink Oil SweetenerThe sap from the trunk is fermented to make palm wine, which is a very popular drink in west Africa[297 , 299 ]. When fresh, the sap tastes like ginger beer. The alcohol content of the sap increases from less than 2% to about 5% during the first 8 days of tapping, remaining constant thereafter[299 ]. It is obtained from the inflorescence[301 ]. It is tapped from the stem when the tree nears the flowering stage[299 ]. The sap can be obtained either by cutting down the trunk and allowing the sap to drain out, or by boring a hole in the trunk near the apex[297 ]. Palm wine is obtained by piercing the base of the terminal bud, which leads eventually to the death of the palm[418 ]. The wine is distilled into a strong alcoholic liquor and can also be used as bakers' yeast[299 ]. Fruit - boiled and eaten[297 , 299 ]. Poisonous raw[299 ]. The apical bud is cooked and used like cabbage[299 , 301 ]. Harvesting this bud will eventually cause the death of the trunk because it is unable to make side branches[K ]. An edible starch is obtained from the stem[301 ]. An oil is obtained from the fruit[297 ].
The mechanical properties of polymers are inadequate for many structural purposes, particularly their strength and stiffness which are lower than those of ceramics and metals . This difficulty is commonly overcome by reinforcing them with stronger and stiffer components such as synthetic and natural fibers (NFs). Reinforcement leads to improved mechanical properties and widens structural applications of polymers . However, it is equally recognized that composites made from synthetic reinforcements pose severe environmental pollution problems . Hence, the increasing interest is in the use of NFs for making polymer matrix composites (PMCs). Natural fibers, which are sourced mostly from plants, are inexpensive, renewable and biodegradable. Some NFs have mechanical properties comparable to those of synthetic fibers . Although several studies reported on the use of natural fibers such as flax [5, 6], sisal [7,8,9], abaca [10,11,12], banana [1, 13, 14], coir [15, 16], pineapple  and ramie  to manufacture PMCs, very little attention has been given to the potential use of raffia palm fibers in polymer composites . They can also be used to reinforce concretes and clay bricks or make geotextiles .
This test was performed to determine the moisture adsorption capability of dry raffia fibers on exposure to a humid environment. Five samples, each weighing 0.50 g, were dried in an air oven at 70 °C for over 60 h to ensure full drying before cooling to room temperature and subsequently placed in a Model 1200 Thunder Scientific Corporation humidity generator (Thunder Scientific Corporation, USA) which was maintained at 23 °C and 50% RH, with 0.5% RH uncertainty. To study the effect of temperature on the moisture adsorbed, the humidity generator was maintained at 50 °C and 50% RH. Sample weight readings were taken at different time intervals between 3 and 58 h. The moisture content (MC) of the fibers (in wt%) was calculated using Eq. (1).
The purpose of this test was to determine the water absorption capability of dry raffia fibers. Five samples, each weighing 0.50 g, were used in this experiment. The fibers were dried for up to 60 h in an oven maintained at 70 °C, cooled to room temperature and weighed. The fibers were then immersed in a water bath containing distilled water maintained at room temperature. They were removed from the water bath at different times, the surface cleaned to remove any water and weighed within 30 s to ensure no evaporation effect. The weight was recorded as a function of time until the saturation limit was reached. The water content (WC) of the fibers (in wt%) was computed using Eq. (2).
Figure 3 shows typical SEM micrographs obtained from a transverse section of a RPF. The morphology of the raffia palm fiber is similar to those of other natural fibers. As shown in Fig. 3a, it comprises essentially three distinct regions: a porous inner region consisting of large lumens labeled 1, a more compact middle region labeled 2 and a very thin outer surface (epidermis) labeled 3. Between the outer surface and the inner core, there are two radial pathways labeled 4 which probably serve as conduits for water/moisture exchange between the core of the fiber and the surrounding medium or environment. The expanded view of the inner region shown in Fig. 3b shows that the fiber consists of many single-walled elementary fibers each with its own lumen. Although the mid-section of the fiber appears more compact at low magnification than the inner region, a close examination of Fig. 3c shows that it is also made up of numerous elementary fibers each having its own local lumen(s). Such lumen distribution within elementary fibers was reported for coir fibers and found to be discontinuous in the fibers and it is contained within every individual elementary fiber . The middle lamella (Fig. 3d) glues the elementary fibers together is made up of lignin and hemicellulose [35, 36]. It can be seen from Fig. 3b, c that the size of the lumens in the inner region is larger than that of the ones located in elemental fibers. 781b155fdc