Following the success in launching locally produced groundnut under the Mahadeepam brand, officials realised that tribals who cultivated tamarind, pepper and little millet and collected pure honey from the forest were being taken for a ride by a Chennai based trader, who procured the product for as low as Rs 40 a kilo, packed them in Chennai and sold them back to shops in the hills at Rs 120 a kilo.
“When we enquired we found that the LAMP (Large Area Multi-Purpose) society created under the cooperative system decades ago for tribals was unable to help them due to political pressure by the trader. It was then that the Jawadhu Hills Tribals Farmer Producer Company was started some months ago with 3000 women farmers, who now collect the product and market themselves,” Kandasamy told DT Next.
“The farmers were more than happy to supply to Farmer Producer Company (FPC) as we offered them Rs 80 per kilo for their produce which was 100 per cent higher than the rate given by the private trader. To ensure that products were attractive, we purchased Rs 2 crore equipment and packed the products in bottles and plastic with white labels,” he added.
“Though the Khadi board has a unit in Jamaunamarudur in the hills for procuring honey, the unit was defunct due to various issues and so new equipment has been bought to restart the collection programme again,” he said.
“The wild honey collected by tribals is totally pure and hence our products will be marketed under the ‘Divine Pure’ brand,” Collector Kandasamy added.
As of now, the Jamunamarudur-based FPC has stocks of the above products worth Rs 20 crore ready for the market.