The alternative medicine manufacturing unit of Gandhigram Trust -Lakshmi Seva Sangam is planning to establish industrial clusters at 50 villages in Tamil Nadu's Dindigul and Theni districts.
The Ayurveda and Siddha project will be involving 500 families of artisans, suppliers of raw materials, traders and service providers under the special Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries, says Sangam secretary K. Shivakumar.
Recently, the KVIC had identified the Sangam for executing the scheme in the villages and had sanctioned them Rs.1 crore.
"The region between Sirumalai and Kodai hill has tremendous potential for cultivation of medicinal plants and herbs. The major beneficiaries are collectors of herbs, barks, seeds and roots, mostly tribals, in one or two revenue sub-divisions in the two districts," Shivakumar informs.
Under the scheme, the tribals will be encouraged to involve themselves in value addition and to shift their focus to planned collection without destroying sources from unsustainable collections of forest and non-agricultural lands.
Farmers, another beneficiary, will be exposed to the large scale production of medicinal plants, a viable alternative commercial proposition with assured income.
This is not all. Individuals, members of self help groups and traditional medical practitioners involved in making traditional products on a small scale will also be encouraged. The SHGs will be roped in to set up infrastructure facilities such as drying yards, godowns or small semi-processing units. A Cluster Development Coordination Committee has been formed and an action plan chalked out for immediate implementation, adds Shivakumar.
Meanwhile the Center has announced an allotment of Rs.100 crore for setting up traditional industrial clusters producing eco-friendly products and offering job opportunities to people in rural areas. The Ministry of Agro and Rural Economy has joined hands with the State Governments and the KVIC in implementing the scheme.
Two years back, the Center for Documentation, Research and Training on Natural Dyes, a unit of Gandhigram Trust at Gandhigram had successfully exported its first batch of curative textiles to Japan.
Curative textiles are used in Japan to cure lunacy, skin diseases, hypertension and respiratory ailments.
The consignment arrived in Japan after successful tests and trials for two years. The Mitsubishi group already placed orders with the center.
The yarn manufactured at the Rajapalayam unit is eco-bleached and dyed using medicinal plants and natural dyes. It is then forwarded to Tirupur for knitting and brought back to the center for medical processing and again sent for making garments.
The Gandhigram Trust was set up in 1947 by two devoted Gandhians, the couple Dr. T.S. Soundram and Dr.G.Ramachandran. They wanted to create a model that would concentrate on the complete development of the human being. This institution is now a pioneer in the implementation of Gandhiji's Constructive Programme. The main objectives are:
∑ Providing access to affordable essential services for rural communities, such as health, education and social welfare,
∑ Co-creating knowledge with the communities leveraging their traditional strengths, and making them applicable for modern times
∑ Ultimately strengthening the community by facilitating economic development programs, creating livelihood opportunities and self-managed development programs
Each of these core work areas have been executed through initiatives and organizations that have become institutions on their own standing today. The activity of the Gandhigram Institution is spread over the districts of Dindigul, Karur, Theni, Madurai, Thirunelveli, Sivangagai and Virudhunagar of Tamil Nadu, with remote offices and divisions.