Village Ways Director Keith Virgo is always interested to discover all the small businesses that flourish in our partner communities. It can be inspirational to see the ingenuity and industry of rural people, and many use local resources in sustainable ways. Here, Keith reports from Mothakkara in the hills of Kerala, south India.
The walk up the hill above Mothakkara Village to the Kooruchiya Tribe community of Valaramkunnu is rewarded by an extensive view over the rolling plantations and paddy fields below and the slopes of Mount Banasura above. Now there is an added benefit to this enjoyable walk. One can meet Mr Kayloo at his essential oil processing unit. Housed in a thatched building on the hillside, the unit comprises a simple still over a small furnace.
Kayloo is pleased to meet Village Ways guests and proudly explains the process: how the leaves of eucalyptus and lemon grass are ‘cooked’ in a digester and the oils are collected from a condenser that is set in a water-filled barrel. The processed leaves are later fed to his two cows, which share the building. Meantime the oil is sealed in plastic bottles. “We sell these in the market of the local town, 10 litres sells for Rs 2,500 (around £2.50)” he explains.
The processing plant was set up by Kayloo and a friend, using their own funds. Other members of the community help by providing lemon grass from local plantings and leaves from eucalyptus trees originally planted by the Forest Department.