It was during my Karnataka Goa road trip I got a chance to visit Uravu Wayanad, Kerala. Uravu – means a source of water, is a source of help and support for local people creating self employment making products out of Bamboo. The initiative was started by a few men in the late 90s, today Uravu trains and educates the local people to make eco friendly products, they make from a range of souvenirs to houses stay out of bamboo.
I was warmly welcomed by Mr. Baburaj, one of the founding members of Uravu. He explains me the story of Uravu Wayand, the reason for its existence, programs they are into based on Bamboo, and how the venture came up as a successful system of Responsible tourism.
Wayanad was one very rich in bamboo, most of it was cut and used by Mavoor Gwalior Rayons factory in Kozhikode / Calicut. After which much initiative was not taken by any bodies to replant or re-cultivate in place of the sawed ones. Lot of bamboo forests got naturally destroyed as part of the flowering process. These dried bamboo forests could be seen once after Sulthan Bathery while traveling towards Mysore.
Uravu has a nursery that sells around forty different species of Bamboo, these are researched, grafted and developed to initiate a bamboo revolution in wayanad. Local farmers purchase and prepare bamboo farms for the future. A 5 year old bamboo is apt to craft products. Each variety of bamboo has its own purpose – the size, flexibility, strength are all taken into account to decide which variety of bamboo is required for the product.
I was surprised to see a few Nigerien men who were at Uravu undergoing a training program to learn how to make products out of bamboo. I was stunned to see the products they made, it is absolutely an expression of art and creativity. There are artisans working at Uravu making artifacts and handicrafts and the products are mostly sold to the orders they receive. Uravu houses a shop which showcases the products they make in different small units across Wayanad.
Uravu Wayanad from a local self help model was identified as one of the successful model of Responsible tourism creating Jobs for the local people at the same time attracting lot of tourist to visit the Uravu village. There offer programs where tourists spend a day and learn a craft out of bamboo. In all sense Uravu has grown to an extent where people are enabled creating jobs themselves, generate income, develop ideas, art and creativity.
Written by Benjamin John