Thursday, July 29, 2010

Detailed background of the project

About the project

Fr. Lancy D’Cruz, while pursing the research in Ethno botany came in contact with the Vasavas adivasis. Despite living in areas rich in biodiversity, these tribals were living below the poverty line. Deeply impressed by the fact that these tribals have both - the plants, and the knowledge about the plants, he thought of innovative ideas to help the tribals generate income from these resources. This was done through a project that the Xavier Research Foundation carried out along with the Adivasi Samajik Kendra, Dediapada titled “People –forest-laboratory linkages for conservation of ethno botanical biodiversity”

On completion of this project Fr Lancy D’Cruz joined hands with JEEVAN TIRTH AND MANTHAN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME SOCIETY, INDIA and the team. They together designed a project which was forwarded to an NGO, ALBOAN. The aim was to promote the socio-economic development of the Vasavas and to protect their traditional knowledge of medicinal plants. Several ideas were exchanged among the partner NGOs who are experts in the field of education, research, training, etc in order to help the Vasavas.

Who are these people?

The Shoolapaneshwar forests in south Gujarat are remnants of some of the finest forests in the Gujarat. The Dediapada forests are part of the Shoolpaneshwar wildlife sanctuary and home to a variety of natural resources and a diversity of flora and fauna.

The Vasava tribals who inhabit the Shoolpaneshwar wildlife sanctuary form a prominent part of the diverse ethnic groups and a homogenous group with their own leadership, law and custom. They possess immense knowledge about these medicinal plants.


The adivasis are completely dependent on agriculture, which is their primary occupation. They cultivate rice and tuvar mainly for self consumption. They sometimes collect small quantities of medicinal plants from the forest for their own use. They are able to take only one crop a year due to limited water supply. This was not enough to satisfy the needs of the entire family. Hence the tribals had to migrate for work. Most of them end up cutting sugar cane or bamboo for the local factory at very low wages. This migration plays a crucial role in damaging their socio-economic fabric.

Hence, the initial focus of the project was a community-based approach to medicinal plant cultivation focusing on improvement of land quality, water management, and good agricultural practices. In the beginning local tribals were contacted. Being very shy and introverted, the tribals were difficult to convince, but once they understood the potential of the project they were willing to be part of it.

The project was implemented in three phases.

- Market study on medicinal plants, an irrigation system study and capacity building trainings.

-Improving their farm lands, at initiating organic cultivation, and at deepening their commercial, administrative, management and marketing skills

-The group will set up and run a united organization dealing with cultivating, processing and marketing of the products.

What kind of set up do they have?

During the initial stage the tribals used to sell their products only to a limited range of people in their surrounding areas. After getting to know about the extensive business opportunities outside, the groups were encouraged to go outside their areas to market and sell their products.

Earlier they would sell the products without any specific packaging. The group felt the need to customize the appearance of the package so that it could enter the larger (market) and be easily identified by the customers. This would help them have their own identity. For all this formalities they needed to be aware about the legal documentations and procedures. Tribals, unaware about this procedure were made aware about this process. This has helped them to deal with future legal procedures.

The group has also been able to set up a small ‘office’ at a prominent place in a shopping complex in Dediapada. It is already being managed by three of the group members under the supervision of the local co-coordinator. The center is the base of all the activities. The Center has utilities like computer tables, computer chairs, racks, plastic chairs, steel cupboards etc. The methods used by the tribals for formulating the end products were old and time consuming. The office made a decision to invest in equipments for processing - for drying and for grinding the materials.

For the regular maintenance of the center, the concept of saving was introduced to the Vasavas. They were taken for a bank visit, to help them understand the banking system. The concept of savings was highly encouraged. The group members together made a pact to save one rupee a day which amounts to thirty rupees a month. This money was collected at the center and together was deposited in a common bank account. The accumulated money was used to give loans to the members at nominal interest rates. This financial support helped them to resolve issues related to work and family. The loans offered to the members were very liberal and flexible. Installments were set according to the capacity of the member to repay. The money saved in the common bank account acted as a security in times of emergency.

Each member was given a passbook in which they kept record of the money they deposit every month. They also kept a record of all the goods in the center. Separate journals help in identifying and tracking the records of the goods. It helps in building the future steps for the group. The members are now trained to run and manage the organization as well as benefit from it.

How and where are they selling today?

The group has managed to participate in several exhibitions and fairs outside Dediapada. They participated in the traditional Food Festival event “bhuli bhulai vanngi” held at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmadabad; at this event the group earned some income and were also awarded with a special prize for its Brahmi products.

The ‘Aadi Aushadi’ group displayed their traditional food called ‘Manda’ made from rice flour. The method of preparing food was traditional. They used wooden sticks to make innovative forms of the ‘Manda’, which were cooked and steamed in ‘khakra’ leaves. Along with Manda they prepared their local ‘subji’. The food was cooked in front of the visitors the tribals got compliments for their preparation.

Many such events like the fairs at Korvi, the ‘Krishi fair’ at Dediapada and the ‘Krishi fair’ at Sagbara involved in a great deal of planning. Initially the local coordinator was always there to support them at each event. But now the group members plan for the events themselves. They use innovative ways to attract visitors -- use of a punch liner, mock plays, etc. These occasions gave them practical opportunities to display the knowledge which they had gathered during the workshops and meetings.

The group has also represented the District Rural Development Agency (D.R.D.A) at fairs in Jamnagar and in Ahmadabad. It has helped the group to get publicity and many people from different parts of Gujarat have tried to contact them.

Today, thanks to the team effort, they are able to prepare a variety of products. These products help in curing many common diseases. To name a few, medicines for acidity, arthritis, diabetes, kidney stone, general sickness, jaundice, cough and cold, loose motions, etc.

The group has also experimented with various products of Amla, hair oil, massage oil, tea powder and Chavanprash. All these products have been marketed in Ahmadabad. Usages of local plants like ‘Khati bhindi’ for jam, sharbat and drink concentrate have also been successfully tried.

The groups have started a small Nursery for multiplying medicinal plants. Initially they used to grow few medicinal plants. Increasing interest in growing medicinal plants has encouraged the group to increase the production of these plants. This has helped in increasing the sale of the medicinal plants.

For the future progress of the group, they have decided to train ten selected members as master trainers for training new members. They are also trying to create awareness about the group by a documentary on the group activities. A web page will also be set up to increase the scope of the group’s business.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chips to Clips and Chocolates

Packaging an idea whose time has come-Bindu D. Menon
Ashok Chaturvedi, Chairman and MD, Uflex, talks to BrandLine

While travelling back to Surat from Bangalore I found this article in one of the supplement of The Hindu and since packaging is part of my project I found it interesting and took some notes from the article.
It mainly talks about how consumer psychology works, what is market situation in India and other countries and importance of packaging design.
Here are some of the points I found interesting:

-From packaged chips to clips and chocolates, it is the way the product is packaged that convinces and compels the consumer to drop a trusted brand for a more attractively packaged one.

-It is not just material but also printing, graphics and design that come into play while developing client specific products.

-Packaging is the first salesman for a product.

-Close to 70% consumer buying decisions are made at the retail shelf and packaging serves as a critical point-of-sale advertising, helping to increase brand awareness and grab consumer attention.

-Flexible packaging (moisture resistance, grease resistance, aroma retention, sealability and printability) over rigid packaging.

-Retailers' drive to reach into rural areas is increasing the demand for 1 time sachets which are offered at lower price.

-A large no. of consumers are opting for private labels owing to their attractive packaging and competitve pricing.

Below is the link to the original article

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

1st review summary

1st Review Summary
th July’10
Panel Members: Kumkum, Dharma, Jyothsna

-Cleared doubts about how much time should be given to research and how to research.

-Working backwards in order to get clear about how much time should be given to different stages of the project.

-Research should be focused so that when on field, it’s clear in my head as to what information I need to gather.

-Also research questions should be clear so that I do not get lost in research.

-Research should not be given more than 2-3 weeks.

-Defining realistic timeline.

-2nd review on 3rd august with research and analysis.

Books Advised
-Craft of research
-any book by Kotler
-Continnum research
-Qualitative research by Jennnifer Mason

Monday, July 12, 2010

Project Proposal

Design for Development

Design Brief:
Branding, Packaging and Publication Design for products made by Tribal
communities of Narmada District and Women from Surendranagar to generate
income for them and make them self-sustainable.

Current Scenario:
Manthan Educational Programme Society, India is a not for profit organization
focused to ameliorate and instill fresh methods in science communication and
entrepreneurship development amongst students and communities at large.
Manthan focuses on entrepreneurship development with the help of special
skill, marketing and design training. The main objective behind these trainings
is that the unemployed people develop their own businesses by developing
their own products.
Currently there are more than 20 - 25 different groups making different
products. The products developed by the micro enterprises are either sold in
local market or government fairs. These people although being experts in the
field and in spite of huge market for these products they do not get sufficient
income since they do not have enough exposure and proper channel to reach
larger group of audiences.

Main products:
- Rugs from waste saris
- Candles
- Herbal Medicines
- Lifestyle products from Natural fibers like mobile covers, hair clips, etc.
- Clothing

The products developed are of high quality but are not able to reach to masses
in the cities and not able to earn a larger income for the groups. To reach to
national and international level proper branding and proper packaging are
A publication describing the process of the products made and the background
of that area would help the people know about the value of the product. The
content of the publication will be publication the background of the area, the
population and statistics, the importance of income generation, the training
process, the products developed and their process and simple technologies
provided to make their process simple.

- to generate better income through proper branding and packaging
- to let the people access the process of the work
- to reach to national and international level
- to let people know the real benefit of the programme
- to use design for social development
-to make the process of the work and motive of the programme more
transparent to consumers

I chose this subject as my diploma project as I believe that craft despite
being marginalized due to urbanization has very strong potential. My
previous experiences in the area for eg. Visit to Virvallanur and Rajasthan
and communities like Dastkar has inspired ideas in me which I feel have not
been explored enough. I intend to use my knowledge and skills as a visual
communication designer to develop brand identity and packaging which
facilitates effective communication.

- design branding and packaging for products from completely different areas
- design branding and packaging for completely different products within the
time frame
- to design packaging that will be cost-effective
- displaying the rural touch for urban market

Research Questions:
-how do I put my knowledge to improve their financial condition?
-what kind of branding will be suitable to the products?
-how do I present the product as a marketable product?
-how can I use rural touch to the likes of urban Indians?

-research and analysis of different kinds of branding and packaging
-interviewing rural people and knowing their background and products
well enough
-ideating and formulating a style
-designing and layout ideas
-constant feedback from the users
-prototyping to check workability

-People: visual communication designers, users, rural people
-Books on branding and packaging
- Internet
- Other organizations working on similar subjects
-Drawing materials and paper
-Printer and scanner

Learning Outcomes:
-to demonstrate skills in the area of social communication
-to give contemporary look to very traditional products keeping in
mind the cost
-to facilitate effective communication through this process
-to communicate with rural people and know their lifestyle
-to explore different mediums and use appropriate technology
-to make products marketable products