Vythiri

Here, also personal interviews and a detailed interview with the RT Cell coordinator of the destination were conducted. Among the three responsibility areas, the progress made in the social and environmental fronts were minimal, though efforts were made. The sources of information at Wayanad are given in Appendix 3-1.
1. RT related structure

a.    SLRTC
The Panchayat President of Vythiri who is a member of the SLRTC is aware and alert about the concepts and ideologies of RT. The constitution of SLRTC with a fine representation conducted meetings 
b.    Destination Level RT Committee
On 6th May 2007 in the destination level workshop, created the DLRTC with members of the Panchayat, representatives of NGOs, government, tourism industry, media and academics as the committee members. The District Panchayat President was titled as the Chairman. The list of members of DLRTC formed in the workshop is given in Annexure 4-1.
On 23rd Nov 2007, DLRTC met once again. But according to Sri Gagarin, the present Panchayat President of Vythiri, it didn’t contributed much. Decisions taken in the meetings were not put into practice. In the Executive Committee of DLRTC that met after the formation of the RT cell, the Director of Tourism and representatives of WTO participated. The Secretary (DTPC) is the Convener of DLRTC, the involvement of DTPC Secretary in RT implementation was felt to be less important. As the duty of organising the meeting of DLRTC was with the RT Cell Coordinator, the DLRTC never met. The time period of RT Cell ended in June 2010. 
c.    Destination level Working Groups
Working groups were formed by the DLRTC at Wayanad. 

d.    Technical Support Cell at District level
RT Cell initiated RT implementation in Wayand.  As per the RT Cell coordinator 150 kg of "Gandhakasala" rice was supplied to hotels before the RT Cell started functioning. RT Cell triggered many programmes under RT. The Cell started the Samrudhi shop and helped in making contracts with the hotels and resorts. The Table 4-1 below gives you an idea of the pace in RT implementation. In 2009, value of sales through Samrudhi increased from the first half to second half considerably and in 2010 it decreased. Similarly, while there was considerable growth in sales during the first half of 2010 compared to the first half of 2009, the growth was less in the second half of 2010.

Table 4-1. Comparative sales through Samrudhi for the years 2009 and 2010

Value of sales by Samrudhi Group

Change from 1st half to 2nd half

 

Jan to Jun

Jul to Dec

Total

 

2009

11801.40

115024.70

126826.10

103223.30

2010

233408.60

179405.00

412813.60

-54003.60

Increase

1878%

56%

225%

 

The Cell began to put efforts in the social and environmental responsibility frontiers along with its participation in the economic responsibility activities of RT.  Souvenirs such as spice kits, designs of Edakkal Caves and coffee stump products were developed with the help of the RT Cell besides the creation of a festival calendar with all details of festivals, temple arts, customs and rituals of the destination to attract culture enthusiasts. The RT Cell prepared a destination management plan for the Edakkal Caves and premises after discussing with the Nenmeni Grama Panchayat, DTPC, WTO, staff of Edakkal, shop owners and the residents around the caves. The Cell also provided training to community members and guides who were to participate in the Village Life Experience package tours.
e.    Price Fixing Committee
Before the RT Cell ends it function, the Price Fixing Committee formed with Panchayat President, CDS Chairperson, RT Cell Coordinator, hotel managers and members of Samrudhi as members  met three or four times. The Samrudhi members were not well informed of the role of the Price Fixing Committee. 

f.    Quality Committee
In Wayanad, hotels are completely satisfied with the quality of supplied items. Thus according to a Samrudhi Activity Group member, the requirement of a Quality Committee was not felt much in the district. Still samples were provided before supply. 
g.    Samrudhi Activity Group
Although Samrudhi Activity Group launched with utmost enthusiasm in 2008 with six members including four women from different Kudumbasree units, the group currently has only three members. Two shops one at Vythiri that started on 8th March 2009 and the other at Pookot which started on 9th Sept 2009 have given them rent free space. Reports suggest that the shops are now not economical. The Panchayat President suggested to open more shops in the district as part of the same chain for better participation. 
Rs. 2.35 lakhs is the first investment in this group including loan and individual shares. The Samrudhi unit has taken a loan of Rs. 2.2 lakhs and received a subsidy of Rs. 60,000. Monthly repayment is Rs. 5500. On an average, a member of a Samrudhi unit earns about Rs. 3000 a month, @ Rs. 100 per day. The members also take 10% of the profit. The monthly sales from March 2009 to May 2010 are given in Table 4-2. 

Table 4-2: Monthly sales through Samrudhi shops

Sl No

Month

Supplies to hotels

Open sale

Souvenir & spice shops

Others

Total

1

Mar-09

2455

10783

   

13238

2

Apr-09

 

3987

   

3987

3

May-09

3964

1811

   

5775

4

Jun-09

5906

420

   

6326

5

Jul-09

8170

1517

 

6615

16302

6

Aug-09

9449

7905

 

39474

56828

7

Sep-09

17881

1352

37139

 

56372

8

Oct-09

15229

11207

20909

 

47345

9

Nov-09

19375

7706

32991

 

60072

10

Dec-09

44853

12334

32039

 

89226

11

Jan-10

55615

13129

24557

 

93301

12

Feb-10

36336

6803

15644

 

58783

13

Mar-10

47197

9398

4644

 

61239

14

Apr-10

34696

10961

17501

 

63158

15

May-10

38049

6554

17690

 

62293

 

Total

339175

105867

203114

46089

694245

A restriction in the supply of vegetables to the hotels happened in Wayanad due to a number of factors. One is that a general confusion arose regarding the quality of products in Samrudhi shops. Another was the shortage in availability of vegetables such as pulses, bitter gourds, pumpkins and amaranthus due to climatic variations and damage caused by animals. The fact that all the vegetables are not grown in Wayanad alone is another reason for the delay in supply. 
In the initial stage, the main objective of Samrudhi was sale of products to hotels and resorts. The sale was excellent along with additional weekend sales from October to June. In March 2009 the number of products on sale was around 64 products. Tea, coffee powder, curry powder, papads, kondattoms, spices and cashew nuts are some of the items supplied and among these many are produced outside RT area. Though most of the items could not be continued for long, the Samrudhi group did gain knowledge regarding the needs and pulse of the industry. In order to keep in terms with its customers, well-timed discipline is needed and also cooperation is essential between Samrudhi, Kudumbasree units, Panchayat and Agricultural department in activities like the supply of seeds, funding etc.  But according to the RT Cell coordinator, Samrudhi lacked local support even though it was active. 
In the opinion of CDS chairperson, in order to spread RT, more Samrudhi shops are needed. This will also help many families. Due to low initial profits and returns and lack of profit-making targets, there was a deficiency in the revenue of the members. One Samrudhi volunteer later became a Panchayat member and this was found to be a good instance of women coming to the forefront and taking part in decision making. 
A general notion arose regarding the quality of the products in Samrudhi 
•    Delivery to hotels was not punctual
•    Scarcity in vegetables affected the delivery
•    Impossibility of lease land farming
•    Weather variations and threat of animal attacks blocked vegetable production. 
•    Thus the participating hotels have decreased to 4 from 15. 
Economic instability stood in the path of Samrudhi. It took up open sale and depended on non-perishable items to reduce damage and loss. Items were acquired from the sources of other traders to raise profit to repay loans. But the role of Samrudhi as conceived while implementing RT as exclusive outlets for RT products could not be fully realised, mainly due to economic reasons.
h.    Farmers Group
 January 2010 with the focus of organic farming, the farmers in Samrudhi group increased from 10 to 24. Even though in the initial stage MSSRF provided their support, adverse climate and damages by wild animals stood as obstacles. 
1. Minutes of the 7th meeting of SLRTC held on 16th Feb 2010.

2. Relationship among partners and stakeholders
In Wayanad implementation of RT was carried out with the aid of fund generation by other agencies without the direct financial support of DoT. The Local Self Governments (LSG) were one such agency that provided help for RT. It also sustained close contacts with RT Cell Coordinator, CDS, industry and Kudumbasree. LSG also allowed space for the Samrudhi shop without any rent. 
Samrudhi is not in a situation to meet the demands of more hoteliers because of the lack of items. 
The event “Splash” by the Wayanad Tourism Organisation (WTO), an association of hotels and resorts in Wayanad, provided opportunities to local community to trade their products and also allowed tribals to perform stage shows. 
The production units of RT worked hand in hand helping each other. The Vaishnavi Kudumbasree unit, a unit expert in the making of Kondattam showed their support by teaching other units to make it. 
3. Ownership by the local body
An active participation and control of Panchayat Samiti can be witnessed in the RT implementation. It controls and facilitates development works. The Panchayat safeguards the interest of the community. It restricts developmental activities and controls unauthorised constructions. Even though these are the main responsibilities, RT implementation demanded initiatives and guidance that could link the community and the tourism industry to become responsible participants of tourism development.
 
RT implementation was supported by the former and present Panchayat Presidents and the members. In the opinion of the present Panchayat President, efforts are made to make land available for lease farming. Possibility is still high to open new Samrudhi shops and expand organic farming. 
During the last Panchayat Samithi, only the Panchayat President appeared to be active and not the whole Panchayat. The Panchayat supported Samrudhi shops and also helped to contact hotels. 

  Environmental factors and programmes for clean and plastic free Vythri has been the key concern of the new Panchayat Committee. 
   4. Ownership by industry
Vythiri taluk comprises three 3-star hotels, 27 non-classified hotels, seven home stays, two Government rest houses and two ayurveda centres. There are 10 hotels including one in 2-star category, two homestays and a Government Guest House, in the Sultan Bathery taluk and there are 10 non-classified accommodation units and two home stays in Mananthavady Taluk. The eight hoteliers given in Table 4-3, including the three 3-star classified hotels, signed a MoU stating their participation in the destination level workshop organised on 6th May 2008.
  2.Report on Responsible Tourism Phase I, Wayanad, GITPAC - RT Technical Support Cell, June 2010

Table 4-3: List of accommodation units that signed MoU in May 2008

Sl No

Accommodation

Category

Number of rooms

1

Wynberg Resorts, Thrikkaipettah (Vythiri Taluk) and Kuzhivayal Estate (Sultan Bathery Taluk)

Not classified

13+28

2

Hotel Haritagiri, Kalpettah (Vythiri Taluk)

3-star

35

3

Vythiri Resorts, Vythiri (Vythiri Taluk)

3-star

39

4

Green Gates, Kalpettah (Vythiri Taluk)

3-star

34

5

Edakkal Hermitage, Edakkal (Sultan Bathery Taluk)

Not classified

7

6

Pranavam Homestay, Vythiri (Vythiri Taluk)

Silver House

4

7

Ente Veedu, Kayakkunnu (Mananthavady Taluk)

Gold House

4

8

Hill View Home, Vaduvanchal

Gold House

4

Table 4-3: List of accommodation units that signed MoU in May 2008

  Only three hotels supported as partners even though eight hoteliers signed the MoU.  The number of partners increased to 10 by January 2010 and then to 15. But a sincere participation from every hotel was found to be lacking. Increase in price was the reason for some to stop or withdraw the purchase from Samrudhi. Currently supply is carried out to only 4 hotels
   Out of 64 items supplied by Samrudhi since March 2009, 28 items were supplied only once. Apart from this, eight items were supplied only in two months. The price and quality stood as a barrier between the hotels and the Samrudhi shops.  But according to the RT Coordinator, only one or two hotels complained about the quality.  Price was the major concern of the hotels. Also it is an established reality that the suppliers of branded products attracted persons in charge of purchase in hotels. The hotels also get supplies from established markets that give them a longer credit period. The main hotels that supported the RT implementation at Wayanad and the purchases they made through RT are given in Table 4-4.

Table 4-4: List of hotels that supported RT most

Sl No

Name hotel / resort

Items purchased

Value of purchase made in 2010 (Rs)

1

Vythiri Resort

Tea powder, pappadam, kondattom (Chilly and bitter gourd), honey, cashew, lemon grass oil.

170436

2

Hotel Green Gates

Pepper, cardamom, cashew, nut maize, clove, star flower, nut mug, cinnamon, kismis

114485

3

Pankaj Hotel

Chilly powder, coriander powder

7190

4

Greeshmam Resort

Tea powder, pappadam, cashew

68518

5

Rain Country Resort

Lemon grass oil

11735

6

Woodlands Hotel

Cashew

26650

       

 

 

Figure 4-1: Sales through Samrudhi since March 2009

 

https://www.rtkerala.com/images/figure-4-1.jpg

 During the months of December 2009 and January 2010 the sales through Samrudhi increased to its maximum and afterwards decreased during the last six months of the services of RT Support Cell.  
Even though an economic loss is faced by the hotels and resorts when they bought items from RT but it should be considered as a social commitment. The connection between the local communities and hotels helped in the sale of some items through Samrudhi. The commitment of the individuals in the hotel is one reason for the participation of the hotels. Some of the hoteliers also felt that the promotion materials developed by DoT in connection with RT implementation are not given to hotels. In the marketing of the function of hotels in RT implementation, RT Certification process sometimes helps. 

5. Benefits to the local community
Wayanad has many tribal communities and RT helped to check their exploitation and provided them a better living. About 30% of its population constitutes the tribal people. The packages like Village life Experience (VLE) helped them to receive profit from tourism. 
RT helped in the overall development of people including the locals and the women thus creating a bond between the local community and the tourism industry. 
Pappad is one of the main supply items.  With seven members in the making unit Pappads are made in Wayanad and is supplied to Samrudhi shops. In 2010 sale was carried out for around Rs. 84,000. The sale of Pappad is the only item that was not affected even after the RT Cell discontinued its support in 2010. 
Vythiri is a ‘plastic free’ zone and this demands the use of paper bags. There are three paper bag units in Wayanad. 
Handicraft units are found to have high potential and the quality of the souvenirs is a concern. “Uravu” is one such unit famous for its bamboo products. Technical and training and support to artisans in the region can be sought from "Uravu", which is represented in the SLRTC. 
The benefits attributed to the local communities cannot be attributed to RT alone. In Vythiri resort there are 75 workers and 15 daily labourers in which fifty percent of the regular employees are from Wayanad and all the daily wage labourers are local people. 
At Edakkal an ethnic food corner run by the Kuruma community was introduced. This unit was found to be successful with a revenue of around Rupees 1,00,000 in the first six months. Even more, success can be attained with the introduction of local cuisine in the menus of hotels to popularise ethnic taste and this will, in turn, benefit the local community.  
With the aim of promoting the traditional culture of Wayanad, a cultural activity group was formed with 15 members. Attempts were brought forward to promote the art forms of Paniya and other communities like "Vattakali" and musical instruments of these communities like "Thudi" and "Cheeni" by the RT implementation at Wayanad.
Besides this, a 45 member folk arts group was also formed. The members are daily wage earners and they stage performance in hotels with around 20 performers that lasts for sixty to ninety minutes. This troupe is a beneficiary of RT that conducts ten pogrammes a month. In the beginning, as an independent group, they used to get only about Rs. 2000 per programme but now with the support of RT their income is Rs. 8000 per programme. 
6. Role of Kudumbasree
Kudumbasree worked as nodal agency in RT implementation from the very beginning itself that is from the 1st destination level workshop to the present Kudumbasree work for RT in Wayanad. They volunteered to be a part of RT implementation and supplied items to the hoteliers in the workshop. 
In January 2010 the number of Kudumbasree units participating in RT implementation increased from 12 to 2. Vaishnavi Kudumbasree is rated high for producing high quality kondattom with curd .
    
7. Gender aspects
Participation of women in tourism development increased with the implementation of RT as it became a main inspiration for the women in Wayanad to come forward and get involved in developmental activities. A member of the Samrudhi shop has even become a member of the Grama Panchayat. 
RT came up with many training programmes to develop the women in Wayanad into efficient entrepreneurs. Training in farming was given to the women in Kudumbasree as a part of this effort. 
8. Production system
In Vythiri and nearby Panchayats the RT Cell made maximum use of vegetable cultivation. The destructions caused by wild animals and the vast forest area made commercial cultivation a difficult task. Also most of the areas suitable for cultivation were under tea plantations. The panchayats that cultivate vegetables such as Pulpally and Panamaram found to be far away. Besides this, availability of vegetables at a low price from the markets at Gundlepet and Ooty made the situation even worse. This is one reason for shifting to the supply of non-perishable items to hotels. 
Vegetables like amaranthus and chillies are among the main agricultural products sold through Samrudhi. Special training to cultivate these crops have been given to women. These vegetables produced in Vythiri by two to three CDS units were supplied to the hotels in the beginning. Then it ended as climatic variation and damages caused by animals started affecting the production. The lack of land availability restricted lease land farming.
When compared to the supplies from Gundulpet and Ooty markets, the prices of locally produced vegetables are high. Samrudhi fixed the price of vegetables. Kudumbasree units and local farmers supplied the non-perishable items. Due to delay in the supply by production units, in its initial stage, Samrudhi had difficulties. The hoteliers questioned the quality of the produce. involvement of RT Cell and LSG found to be its solution.
 Tea powder, coffee powder, cashew nuts, curry powder, papads, kondattoms and spices were the products purchased from CDS units in Nenmeni and Panamaram and supplied. Four or five units supply products to Samrudhi.  The Nenmeni production unit of curry powder is mechanized and a unit in Meppadi supplied Pappad. Cashew nuts are brought from Kasaragod. Apart from this three or four individuals supply lemongrass oil for the hotels. 

Ever since RT implementation, no new CDS unit has begun. Samrudhi became an outlet to sell their products. Through Samrudhi 20 Kudumbasree units, 20 farmers and 10 handicraft units started selling their products by mid-2010. 
Since the price varied for organic vegetables, the produced products were not able to sell. But still, the leaders of RT implementation hoped for a bright future for organic farming. In order to promote organic farming, the Grama Panchayat has put forward proposals under an employment scheme to make land available for lease farming
9. Collection and supply mechanism
Promotion of organic products was the initial decision of the DLRTC. The MSSRF who is in the trade of organic farming cooperated with the RT movement and helped the farmers to start organic farming and in January 2009 began vegetable cultivation. Then in March 2009, they initiated supply to hotels and resorts. With the active involvement of local farmers and Kudumbasree units, the MSSRF ended their participation. Kudumbasree units and local farmers produced non-perishable and semi-processed items that were used for supply and storage
3.Report of Responsible Tourism Phase I, Wayanad, GITPAC-RT Technical Support Unit, June 2010. 
The details of the products are collected from CDS units by Samrudhi and passed onto the RT Cell. It is the RT Cell that contacts the hotels and resorts later fix the rate and takes the purchase order. 
Then the hotels contact the Samrudhi units and share their requirements and details of the expected time of supply in the absence of RT cell. In March 2009, started the supplies through Samrudhi and the Vythiri Grama Panchayat and the RT Technical Cell were successful in maintaining the contact between hoteliers and Samrudhi. In January 2010, sale was Rs. 1,01,694 in which sale to hotels alone was Rs. 64,0084. 
4.Minutes of 7th SLRTC meeting held on 16th Feb 2010.
The supply of vegetables through Samrudhi didn’t last for long. The analysis of supply suggests that Sumrudhi was able to supply only six or seven items regularly in which spices, semi-processed food items and cash crops were found to be prominent. These items accounted for nearly 80% of the sales value as can be seen in Table 4-5.

Table 4-5: Items supplied to hotels that formed 80% of the sales value during the two years up to 2010
Jan to Jun 2009 Jul to Dec 2009 Jan to Jun 2010 Jul to Dec 2010
Pappadam - 32% Cashew nuts (various forms) - 28% Cashew nut (various forms) - 33% Cashew nut (various forms) - 31%
Tea Powder - 11% Pappadam (various sizes) - 23% Pappadam (various sizes) - 16% Pappadam (various sizes) - 26%
Chilly kondattom - 11% Cardamom - 9% Tea Powder - 11% Lemon grass oil - 15%
Chilly Powder - 8% Tea Powder - 8% Lemon grass oil - 10% Tea Powder - 8%
Wheat Powder - 7% Bitter gourd kondattam - 5% Cardamom - 7%  
Bitter gourd kondattam - 5% Chilly Powder - 5%    

The Kudumbasree mission coordinator says that Samrudhi shop receives its income completely from the direct supplies to hotels and the trade through Samrudhi shops itself in which currently 50% is from its supplies to hotels. Samrudhi does the packing and marks up the price by about 10% and supplies to hotels and resorts.
Variation in market prices is the one major reason that affects the sale. Another problem is the easy availability of well-known brands of semi-processed food items like chilly powder. 
10. Local awareness and involvement
In Wayanad, when compared to the amount of participating accommodation units, the local consciousness of RT is found to be less. NGOs like Wayanad Tourism Organisation (WTO) and MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) have collaborated and no new Kudumbasree unit has been created for this. The life and attitude of local community towards tourism industry was influenced by RT and vice verse. 
11. Media support
As per the opinion of the Panchayat President, media support was found to be considerably low for RT implementation. But the RT Coordinator highlights the support of media mentioning the features from Amritha TV.
 

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