A green future: native windows take root in Poonjar

Items on display at a Nattupacha native window near the Aruvikkachal waterfalls in Kottayam.

Items on display at a Nattupacha native window near the Aruvikkachal waterfalls in Kottayam. | Photo Credit: VISHNU PRATHAP

From a canopy tent on the side of a scenic road from Poonjar that winds through the foothills of the Western Ghats, a group of women are taking turns to sell a few commodities. The items on offer include various local farm produce and their value-added versions and, of course, the local delicacies.

This outlet at Malayinchippara, called a Nattupacha Native Window, has been a saving grace for not just the women who are running it, but a bunch of homestead farmers in and around the village. Established by the Bhoomika Centre, a Poonjar-based voluntary organisation, it symbolises a growing movement that seeks to create local support networks in villages using produce and products that are sources locally.

According to Aby Immanuel, the secretary of Bhoomika Centre, the native windows constitute a crucial part of a `courteous tourism’ project which seeks to ensure `ecological, social and economic courtesies’ of the various local attractions here. “All the products available in these windows are sourced from women and farmer collectives that are operating as decentralised households units. For local business groups that are running on a shoe string, it offers a low-cost alternative to reach the people directly,’‘ he said.

From the first native window established near the Aruvikkachal waterfalls a year ago, the Nattupacha programme has now expanded to seven more locations. The outlets are reporting good business with customers, mostly those tourists to local attractions here, visiting them for specialty regional food.

More than just a shop selling native products, the window also offers free assistance to those flocking the local attractions and help to keep the locations clean and safe as part of ensuring courteous tourism . “For instance, all the shops will be distributing drinking water free-of-cost to visitors so as to bring down the use of bottled water to the maximum. A few of them will also have a seed basket, which will offer seeds of various plant varieties absolutely free,’‘ Mr. Immanuel said.

In a remarkably short time, these native windows have become a brand worth preserving for the rural economy and for the environment as a whole. The participants, however, regard that there is still a long way to go in raising awareness on what they are about.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 1:55:48 pm |