India is an agricultural country. 70% of our agricultural lands are rain fed. Annually almost 25% of the agriculture produce is damaged due to a lack of drying and storage facilities. Together with the Indian Institute of Science, we have established a fuel dryer to dry vegetables and herbs.
This initiative is a value adding process for herbs. Due to erratic rainfall when the monsoon and harvest coincide, there is a huge loss of produce for farmers, because perishable produce such as greens, vegetables and fruits get damaged. But by drying these we can store them for the whole year. At the same time there are wild herbs like Usilai, Aavarai, drum stick leaves, curry leaves, Neem leaves, and Hibiscus leaves, flowers like Hibiscus, and Aavarampoo, in abundance. These greens and flowers are available in large quantities. These can be dried and kept for the whole year in the form of leaves or powdered leaves.
To a large extent, people over 55 years are unemployed in the village and they constitute 20% of the population. Hence by creating employment, they collect leaves and flowers and bring them to the farm. These are then fuel dried and marketed. This adds value to perishable agriculture produce. This generates employment opportunities for people over 55, and this is an initiative which falls under environmental conservation and social justice. This fuel dryer unit is functioning on the Kolunji Ecological Farm.
• Women over 55 years of age, widows and single women collect wild leaves, herbs and flowers
• These collected herbs and flowers are brought to the farm
• These herbs are initially dried in the shade
• They are then powdered, packaged and marketed after shade drying.
• They get dried in the fuel dryer; this maintains the nutrients and colour.
• Two staff from Kolunji for drying herbs
• 6 women for herbal collection
• Two part-time staff to bring the collected herbs to the farm
• 2 volunteers for marketing
• With Emmaus International we expanded this unit
• We work together with the National Food Processing Institute
and the National Banana Research Institute
• These herbs are marketed to herbal pharmaceutical industries.
• Kudumbam from its inception in 1982 has been involved with landless agricultural producers and small farmers.
• The annual harvest is between December and February each year.
• When the monsoon is late, it usually coincides with the harvest
• This increases moisture in the grains and vegetables
• Due to a lack of drying facilities and storage, farmers lose between 25 to 30% of their produce.
• Our efforts in 2004 in identifying appropriate alternatives: Jancy, after studying Food Processing Engineering, joined the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Together with Dr Locrass, we installed the fuel dryer at Kudumbam, Kolunji Ecological Farm in 2005.
• From 2005 to 2018 our efforts were mainly in drying vegetables and herbs grown on the farm.
• In 2018, with local university students, we initiated a study to understand the unemployment of rural women between the ages of 50 and 65 years.
• We identified 80% of them were unemployed or underemployed.
• We also identified they lost 30-35% of their grains, seeds and wild herbs because of monsoons during the harvest period and due to a lack of drying and storage facilities.
• Assured employment was available for these women between October and February.
• The remaining 7 months these women were employed mainly in Neem seed, Pungamia seed, Usilai leaves (albizia amara), Henna leaves and picking Hibiscus and Aavaram flowers.
• This brought an income of 1.5 euros a day.
• Our efforts in installing the dryer were to dry herbs, wild herbs and vegetables and improve the nutrient quality and colour, thus enhancing their income by 50 cents to one euro per day.
• In February 2020 the spread of the pandemic all over India and all over the world, created a high demand for natural sanitisers and herbs that enhance immunity.
• With the Emmaus International emergency support we initiated the collection of herbs with 6 women in 3 panchayats, collected Neem leaves and Pungamia leaves which were dried, packaged by 4 women and marketed as natural sanitisers.
• Justicia adhatoda, Omavalli (thick leaf lavender-ajwain) and another 14 ingredients are used to produce the herbal powder “Kabasurakudineer”. This is marketed all over the state and it proved to be very effective in enhancing immunity and in controlling the COVID 19 virus.
• Between May and August we collected these herbs, dried and marketed them to Sidha pharmacy where they produce Kabasurakudineer.
• From September to November we now produce Kabasurakudineer herbal powder and market it to 500 women a month.
We are involved in 40 villages; in the coming 3 years we propose to construct fuel dryers in 3 more centres and establish a farmers’ herb producing company consisting of 3,000 female, herbal collectors.
• In 2005 the dryer was installed at Kolunji Ecological Farm in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
• 2005-2018: Value adding to vegetables. When the price of vegetables drops in the market it is mainly tomatoes, aubergine, ladies finger, bananas and other vegetables. Farmers brought vegetables to dry them and take them back to market.
• From 2019 we started drying herbs. During the pandemic with the demand for natural sanitisers, Neem leaf and Pungaemia were collected and used as disinfectants. Herbs that enhance immunity were collected and were produced as a herbal powder called « Kabasurakudineer ». This is the Sidha formula to enhance immunity and has proved to be very effective. Every month we supply this Kabasurakudineer to 500 families in the villages.
This initiative is part of the Emmaus struggle on social and environmental justice for a sustainable world. Through this initiative, we try to create a sustainable world by making use of herbs in abundance and drying them for long-term use by people. We also create employment opportunities for disadvantaged women over 55, widows and single women. This increases their monthly income by 30-50%.
Growth of the herbal women’s producer company will be a threat to Allopathy pharmaceutical companies.
• For the last 7 months, with Emmaus International, we have expanded the unit. We provide Kabasurakudineer to 500 families every month. This has helped to control the pandemic in the 40 villages where we work.
• The herb Usilai is used as natural shampoo and for hair growth. Many college students have showed their interest in this natural herbal shampoo.
• Aavarampoo (Cassia Auriculeta – Tanner’s cassia) and leaves of Aavarai are used as facial masks. Aavarampoo tea is a natural tea which is good for diabetic people. The dried buds and flowers have many therapeutic benefits. It treats diabetes, gives longevity to life, and is used as a remedy for skin disorders and body odour. It is also used for pain relief, fever, urinary tract disorders, rheumatism, conjunctivitis, ulcers and liver disease, helps prevent constipation and Aavaram Senna tea eases bowel movements and also lowers blood cholesterol levels.
• Herbs like drum stick leaves (Moringa leaves) have 7 times more vitamin C than oranges and 15 times more potassium than bananas. They also contain calcium, protein, iron, and amino acids, which help your body to heal and build muscle. They are also packed with antioxidants, substances that can protect cells from damage and may boost your immune system.
• Herbal facial packs with 15 ingredients have been dried, powdered and packaged for the college girls.
Quintal Jancy, email@example.com
Victor Delina, firstname.lastname@example.org
Johnson Lalitha, email@example.com
• Products are locally collected
• Products can be grown on rain-fed land and also collected in the wild.
• These herbal products are natural sanitisers and enhance immunity
• It is cost-effective
• To the rural poor in India, Asia and Africa this is highly sustainable and replicable.