Vanamoolika was founded in the year 1991, with an aim to specialize in the conservation and organic cultivation of medicinal plants and local plants. Situated in the middle of the Western Ghats, a UNESCO designated world heritage hotspot, Vanamoolika has over the years become a haven for conservation, a model of a world-class processing centre & a distinguished school for conservation & sustainable organic farming.
All around us we see businesses & individuals harvesting & marketing medicinal plants. Most of them disregard all aspects of sustainability & the community. Harvesting plants from the wild is cheap but if not controlled, will hurt the natural biodiversity of the region. Conservation, sustainable farming & responsible harvesting is at the heart of everything we do at Vanamoolika. Every process in Vanamoolika is designed to enhance the biodiversity of the area, strengthen the local community & preserve the ecology & the environment.
Vanamoolika has over the years managed to build a world-class manufacturing centre in order to process the various medicinal plants and the local organic produce grown by our group farmers. Once the foundation was laid for building a strong network of organic farmers within the local community, Vanamoolika realised the need for having the infrastructure to process the farmers’ produce.
The Vanamoolika processing centre is managed completely by an all women self-help group. The group comprises about 350 women who come from within the local community. They process the raw materials into premium organic spices, organic coffee, other organic value added products, herbal medicines & cosmetics. The processing centre is completely organic & HACCP controlled. We now have 2 different processing centres one dedicated for herbal medicines & cosmetics and the other for organic food & beverages.
In Vanamoolika, with time, we have created a well reputed training centre. It is a school imparting knowledge & practice for people who are interested in learning about sustainable organic farming & the conservation and cultivation of medicinal plants.
Currently Vanamoolika hosts more than 700 medicinal plants, a feat not matched by many other organisations. For the last twenty-nine years we have been trying hard to save the biodiversity of our region & we are, so far, proud of our accomplishments.
Our mission is to educate people to become sustainable partners of nature & its resources. By empowering & enabling them to take just what is enough from nature & equally to give back to nature in the same measure.
Wayanad possesses immense bio-resources, rich indigenous tribal knowledge & traditional wisdom. Developments have seen some of these communities & knowledge being ignored. Vanamoolika works with such ignored Indigenous (Tribal) Communities, Marginal / Small Farmers, and local women in order to:
- Make people understand the importance & to take them back to a way of living where we depend on nature & its resources in a sustainable way.
- Use in a sustainable way the accrued traditional wisdom.
- Conserve & preserve the Bio Reserves & the environment for the sustainable continuity of human life.
- Economic & social empowerment of women and to enable them to become torch-bearers in the local society.
We aim to pursue our mission through various programmes & our involvement in:
- Tracing traditional wisdom by revisiting history through research & studies.
- Educating the rural communities to know the Bio-reserves we have, but also make them aware of how these resources are being depleted.
- Providing these communities with institutional & marketing support.
- Opening new markets for the group farmers produce, improve the farmers income & support the long term sustainability of organic farming within the region.
- Enabling & empowering the grass-root communities through their organizations to encourage sustainable usage of the bio-reserves & importantly the regeneration of them.
- In people’s food systems
- In people’s health practices.
- Supporting their economic self-reliance.
The Vanamoolika board advises & administers long term plans, key strategic decisions, conservation & sustainable initiatives and capital & infrastructure investments. The board comprises of individuals from a diverse background & with experience in their relevant fields.
Jörg Volkmann – Projects & Policies
A scientist, consultant & entrepreneur.
A Hydrologist graduate & Soil expert, Jörg has 20 years of professional experience in sustainable development focusing on the agroforestry sector. He has amassed vast experience in these fields having spent considerable amount of time in Ethiopia & Nepal. He has managed to incorporate his learnings into his own entrepreneurial ventures. Jörg brings this experience in his role advising Vanamoolika on projects especially focusing on sustainability & adapting farms to climate change.
Anith Puthiyankath – Commercial & Marketing Strategies
A postgraduate in International Business from the University of Leeds in the UK, Anith grew up in the world of business, as a 3rd generation member of a 100 –year- old family business.
Anith has a considerable amount of experience having worked for MNCs in diverse markets such as India, MEA & Europe. A few years ago, he made the transition to become an entrepreneur, by joining the family business & at the same time venturing on his own, to set up a start-up in the UK - a blank canvas to paint the picture he wished to.
Anith brings in his experience to drive the commercial & marketing strategy of Vanamoolika by understanding & respecting the organisation’s philosophy, vision & founding principles.
Anushka Gomes – Financials
A financial & operations expert, Anushka has over the years held important positions in SMEs & MNCs in the UK.
An entrepreneur & a passionate farmer, she has over the years worked on a few farming projects of her own. As a valued partner of Vanamoolika, Anushka brings her immense experience in the field of finance & operations, to help Vanamoolika manage this part of the business as efficiently as possible.
Ina Kudlich – Internal Audits
Barista & Proprietor of a specialty coffee bar & shop. Profound knowledge of literature & retail business.
Starting as an apprentice in a bookstore right after school, Ina was soon being responsible for successfully building up a new department. A woman of practice, she got a deep understanding of the trade, tactics & strategies in the retail business, at a very young age.
After switching to the coffee business 13 years ago, Ina brings in more than 30 years of experience focusing on small & independent businesses. Dealing with traders just as drawing conclusions from interacting with customers on a daily basis.
Ina’s keen sense of trendsetting, coordination & efficiency in operating a responsible business is useful to Vanamoolika to balance the challenge of conservation & progress.
P.J. Chackochan – Founder & Face of Vanamoolika
One of the founding members of the Vanamoolika vision. A trained pharmacist, a responsible conservationist of medicinal plants & a passionate practitioner of Ayurveda.
A strong advocate of the need to conserve, cultivate & responsibly harvest medicinal plants, Chackochan has seen Vanamoolika grow from the very first days since its inception in 1991. One of the first adopters of organic farming in Wayanad, he has over the years successfully led this movement. Coming from an agrarian background, Chackochan’s immense knowledge in the field of medicine along with his practical experience in sustainable organic farming, in conservation & in cultivation of plants, has helped Vanamoolika to become one of the pioneers in this field.
An ardent supporter of the need to modernise operations & infrastructure, his vision, has seen Vanamoolika develop a world-class infrastructure. At the same time his philosophy has helped him attract experienced partners, to join him in fulfilling the Vanamoolika vision.
K.M. George – Quality & Internal Control Systems
A strong communicator & coordinator, George an Economics student, has over 40 years of experience in the field of organic farming.
He began his career as a field officer for one of Wayanad’s first organisations involved with organic farming & its sales. His role involved organising farmers, creating awareness of organic farming, converting farmers to organic farming & monitoring their activities & standards. A successful stint saw him joining Infarm (Indian Farming Movement) as the Wayanad District Co-ordinator. In his new role he oversaw the activities of the group farmers for the entire district of Wayanad.
George has been with Vanamoolika since 2003, as the Programme Coordinator of Organic Wayanad – the Internal Control System (ICS). He brings his immense knowledge to Organic Wayanad & oversees his team of field officers who together with him guarantee, the genuineness of the organic processes & the quality of the products of the group farmers.
Our vision stems from our ideology that the existence of a healthy community is the centre of human development. That nature with its abundant bio-diversities & traditional wisdom, acquired over generations, if used in a scientific & sustainable way could ensure a holistic & harmonious human development.
The key features of this innovative vision project are:
- Ensuring primary level health security among tribal & rural families.
- Conservation of important medicinal plants.
- Technical guidance for the cultivation of viable species of medicinal plants.
- Organization of farmers collectives for organic cultivation of medicinal plants, food crops & spices with a buy-back arrangement.
- On-farm and off-farm employment for rural women.
- Promotion of organic farming and organic certification.
- Production & marketing support for the farmers’ produces.
- Developing both the export & domestic markets.
- Developing Vanamoolika into an experience centre where guests can learn & participate in the Vanamoolika philosophy.
Organic Wayanad, a charitable society was started in the year 2003, for the sustainability of the small & marginal farmers. The operational area of the organization are within the state of Kerala, Karnataka & Tamilnadu. It is registered under society’s registration act of 1860 section 21 as register No 350/05.
Aims & Objectives:
- Organic agriculture development is the main thrust of Organic Wayanad. Under the vision of the society, we intend to promote activities related to organic cultivation & ecological balance for the benefit of the people of the area in common & for the group organic farmers in particular.
- To amass knowledge & information regarding organic cultivation & development. To spread this knowledge to the people & to find ways & means to put these into practice. This is done by adopting particular areas for experimenting organic methods of cultivation & formation of effective groups of organic farmers.
- To organise Governmental & Non-Governmental institutions, organisations, societies, & individuals who share similar outlook, to achieve the aim.
- To organise & strengthen village level farmers groups & through them support the voluntary activities in villages.
- To facilitate organic certification of group farmers from an accredited certification agency.
- To develop & manage effectively an Internal Control System (I C S) concerning the activities on organic certification & quality assurance.
- To facilitate field staff who visit group farmers & who share good practises & success stories so that they can be replicated.
- To guarantee the organic authenticity of the produce offered to Vanamoolika.
- Training the group farmers, women & youth.
- Regular training for the trainers & field staff.
- I C S Auditors Training.
- Internal Control System for quality, production & certification
- Collecting individual farmer level farm output estimates & managing individual farmer databases.
- Safe procurement of organic products with complete traceability up to individual farmers.
- Sharing good practices within the group farmers.