Greater Mal­abar Ini­tia­tive to Pro­mote Lo­cal In­no­va­tion for Lo­cal Prob­lems

Sustainabilitynext - - Front Page - By Naga Prakasam

Kap­pad, 12 kilo­me­ters from Kozhikode a quiet place that wit­nessed the his­tor­i­cal event that changed the histroy of India for­ever - the place Vasco Da Gama landed in 1498. It was a mixed feel­ing vis­it­ing there on the way back from Area­code (yes, it’s how Ari­akode is pro­nounced) an hour from Kozhikode with en­tre­pre­neur Shamil.

It was very sad to hear dur­ing my last visit to Kan­nur that the ten­der co­conut is com­ing from Kar­nataka, since har­vest­ing co­conut is not eco­nom­i­cally vi­able as the daily wages have gone up. Around ` 800 /day daily wages in Ker­ala is reach­ing de­vel­oped state sta­tus! This pro­vides great op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­trepreneurs to bring tech­nol­ogy to ad­dress this, as farm­ers are giv­ing up on co­conut. Shamil Salam, a me­chan­i­cal engi­neer, the founder of Ken­zon from Area­code, has done ex­actly that. With his brother, they have de­signed a sim­ple co­conut tree climb­ing ma­chine, which im­proves pro­duc­tiv­ity as well as en­ables any­one to climb and har­vest co­conut.

He has sold over 300 units so far. The de­sign is very sim­ple and af­ford­able at ` 2800 a piece, and is easy to carry. The broth­ers are also de­sign­ing sim­i­lar ma­chine for climb­ing are­canut trees.

The Ker­ala State In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (KSIDC) or­ga­nized Startup Kozhikode on 6th July. It’s good to see the fo­cus on more im­pact­ful ven­tures.

On 10th June, the Greater Mal­abar Ini­tia­tive (GMI) also launched its startup ini­tia­tive.

GMI fo­cuses on bring­ing Mal­abar re­gion into the tourism map with home­s­tay, and other facilities.

We vis­ited Rub­ber plan­ta­tions near Kozhikode in the back­drop of beau­ti­ful Wayanad foothills. Rub­ber plan­ta­tions also pro­vide plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for au­tomat­ing the cut­ting and col­lec­tion pro­cesses. It is al­ways good to move up in the value chain, as it pro­tects the farm­ers from price volatil­ity. There are value-ad­di­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties in rub­ber as well. It’s im­por­tant to cre­ate a lo­cal in­vestor com­mu­nity that would support these en­trepreneurs as they can con­nect with the prob­lems bet­ter. We had a good dis­cus­sion with a few high net­worth In­di­ans in Kozhikode around this.

At Irin­jalakuda, the train ar­rived at 6:30 am wel­comed by the Mon­soon. Hail­ing from a rain shadow re­gion of Tamil Nadu, never seen this much rain. I was jok­ing with en­trepreneurs in Ker­ala about bot­tling the Mon­soon rain and selling it. With this much nat­u­ral re­sources, I was told Ker­ala gets veg­eta­bles from out­side.

Af­ter vis­it­ing Ko­dakara, we pro­ceeded to see this young farmer, Ren­jith Ravin­dran in Ash­tamichira, Mala, Ker­ala. He leases the farm­land and grows veg­eta­bles us­ing safe-to- eat prac­tices. Last sum­mer he made a profit of ` 3 lakhs grow­ing cu­cum­ber.

Great to see a few more younger farm­ers like Sree­jith, Vi­jith. Joseph Pal­lan, an ex-mil­i­tary man, seems to be the in­spi­ra­tion for some of them grow­ing veg­eta­bles prof­itably since 1998. Joseph says, “he never hes­i­tates to share his wealth by pay­ing his la­bor­ers/farm­ers. They earn around ` 800 /day and have been with me for more than 8 years. Whereas oth­ers use the mi­grant em­ploy­ees from states like Orissa and West Ben­gal.”

Alex, who is from Orissa says, he earns ` 9000/month and gets

` 7000 af­ter food de­duc­tion. He is look­ing for­ward to go home dur­ing Christ­mas. For just ` 7000 he is mi­grat­ing. Eco­nomics is the main rea­son of mi­gra­tion in India, which is sad - one pros­per­ous state is get­ting peo­ple at cheaper wages from an­other low-in­come state, while Ker­ala is loos­ing its peo­ple to the Gulf. In­ter­est­ing cy­cle - How long this will con­tinue? Young en­tre­pre­neur,

Pradeep Pu­narka at Farm­er­sFZ, who stays in his village in Kadam­bode, pro­cures these veg­eta­bles as per his cus­tomer needs in Cochin with­out any mid­dle men. Since he gives them bet­ter price, he is en­cour­ag­ing the younger gen­er­a­tion to farm­ing!

En­trepreneurs like these are the ones the coun­try needs to­day.

Farmer, Joseph Pal­lan Farm, Mala, Ker­ala

Rub­ber Plan­ta­tion, Kozhikode

Ren­jith Ravin­dran, Young Farmer, Ash­tamichira, Mala, Ker­ala

Pradeep, Farm­er­sFZ, Ko­dakara, Ker­ala

Alex from Orissa in Ker­ala

Naga Prakasam is an avid angel in­vestor in so­cial ven­tures. He is a men­tor at IIMB’s NSRCEL.

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