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Tribes’ Produce Bring Moolah To Munnar’s National Park

The Munnar Forest department has set up a shop in the Eravikulam National Park for selling organic produce of the local tribal population. The shop has been named Eravikulam Organic - The Tribe's Shop,and it sells fully organic food produce, direct from the fields, like butter beans, honey, lemon grass oil, eucalyptus oil, etc. The department helped open this organic outlet so that the tribal people could get a fair price and profit for their goods by direct selling, avoiding middlemen.

A small piquant outlet selling fully organic food products catches the eye of anyone visiting the Eravikulam National Park in Munnar, Kerala, these days. Named Eravikulam Organic, the outlet-in-a-vehicle sells organic produce of tribes, especially from the settlements of Idamalakudy and Koodakkadu areas. The forest department helped open this outlet so that the tribal people could get a fair price and profit for their goods by direct selling and avoiding middlemen.

Indian Masterminds interacted with forest officers, Mr. S V Vinod, DFO and Wildlife Warden, Munnar Wildlife Division, and Range Officer Job J Neriamparambil, regarding this initiative and learnt how they managed to change the lives of the tribal population with this small but thoughtful initiative.

THE ORGANIC SHOP

Talking to Indian Masterminds, Mr. S V Vinod, DFO and Wildlife Warden, Munnar Wildlife Division, said, “Actually, we are fully dedicated to the development of the tribal community. Here, we are aiming at the women who are sitting idle in the tribal colonies. By this initiative, we will be empowering them. Usually, some middlemen purchase all the produce of tribals. But, here, we are trying to avoid these middlemen and give direct benefits to the tribals.”

With no middlemen in the picture, all products will be brought to the outlet by the tribal people themselves and, this way, they will get more percentage and good prices through direct selling. Moreover, it’s beneficial for the visitors to the National Park too, as they are getting an opportunity to purchase the organic products directly from the local tribal producers. With the first outlet already showing positive results, the forest department is now planning to form a proper network and establish more such outlets.

THE IMPLEMENTATION

Before opening the tribal outlet in the Park premises, the forest department had initially started one weekly Thursday market called ‘Chilla’ for the tribal people to sell their produce.

Range Officer Job J Neriamparambil told Indian Masterminds that “this initiative is intended mainly for the upliftment of tribal women and encourage organic produce and give a good market price for them. There is the Muthuvan tribe in Idukki district who are into agricultural activity. They produce butter bean, beans, honey, lemon grass oil,eucalyptus oil,gooseberry, etc. We started the weekly market for them. Middlemen and retail shopkeepers came to this market and the villagers’ goods were auctioned off.”

However, noticing that these people were being exploited by the middlemen, the forest department decided to open an outlet for their produce inside the National Park so that they get good exposure, as tourists from both within and outside the country visit it. “We collect their produce and market them properly in our organic outlet. Since all produce are fully organic, they fly off the shelves fast as gueststo the Park are eager to buy them. So, we are fulfilling two objectives here. We are supplying good quality goods to our guests and the tribal people are making good profits, too.”

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Mr. Job also informed Indian Masterminds that there are 50 plus watchers from the Muthuvan tribe in the National Park. Earlier, their wives and other ladies of the tribe were sitting idle at home.But,after the forest department’s initiative, they started cultivating vegetables and bring their produce directly to the outlet for sale and earn some extra money for their households. So,in this way, the opening of the organic shop has helped the tribal women to become self-reliant also.

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