ERODE: Mahalir Thittam officials have started renovating a complex near Panneerselvam Park that will showcase and promote products made by self-help groups and tribals. This will augment the revenue for people as the showroom would come up in a strategic location in the city and draw footfalls.
Mahalir Thittam officials have been training self-help groups in creating value-added products. “We mainly focus on making seemar and lantana furniture. As both products are made from weeds and sold by the tribals for cheaper prices, by training them in making value-added products, we aim to increase their revenue. Once they are trained, we are planning to take orders to make furniture for office spaces,” said Getzi Leema Amalini, Mahalir Thittam Project Director.
Officials said the complex belonging to District Supply and Marketing Society (DSMS) was being renovated at a cost of `13 lakh. “Tribal people lack skills when it comes to adding value to products and marketing. We are providing training by taking professionals to tribal areas in Burgur and Sathiyamangalam. As far as marketing is concerned, we will procure Rs 5 lakh worth of products through DSMS and sell it in the new complex and supply them to panchayat-level federations.”
Usually, initiatives such as these will lose steam after a few months due to a lack of regular follow-up by the officials as these locations are remote, said the activists. “Tribal people go back to their old ways once the persuasion from the officials stops. It is difficult for them to take these products to urban areas and sell them on their own,” said Mohan of Sathiyamangalam, a CPI leader working in tribal areas.
However, the officials said that under the new scheme, all the departments, including agriculture, are involved and confident it would make a difference. “While it is not possible to conduct regular meetings, the people will be interested once we ensure there is an increase in revenue for the people without much trouble,” said Santha, Assistant Project Director of Mahalir Thittam.
“We have so far sold around 2,000 seemars made people in Ramaranai, a tribal village in Thalavadi Block. People used to sell one kg of seemar grass, from which three seemars can be made, for Rs 20. Now, each seemar is being sold for Rs 60 on an average,” they added.