Creating Green Jobs Through Lantana Crafts
We need to turn a fast-spreading invasive weed into a livelihood resource that can pay for its own removal. And we need to do this quickly. A key part of this process is to train people - mainly forest-fringe communities most affected by the lantana - to make items of value out of it.
With stems that are sturdy, termite resistant and capable of holding weight, the lantana can serve as a substitute for bamboo and cane. Through a simple technique of bending matured lantana stems, it is possible to create a range of products like baskets, furniture, toys, utilities, ornaments and even life-sized elephants.
If you are a designer interested in working with new and sustainable materials like lantana, or if you are from an NGO keen on conducting training sessions, we are looking to work with you. Reach out to Sandeep: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read on to know more about how we started the training process, what we learnt from it and how we have collaborated with different partners.
The Lantana Crafts Centre
In 2003, ATREE set up the to improve the livelihoods of the Soliga tribal community in Male Mahadeshwara Hills in southern Karnataka. Since then, ATREE has trained over 650 artisans primarily from the Soliga and Bedagampana tribes, over 40% of whom are women. These trained artisans get nearly 80% of their cash income (master craftsmen earn Rs 25,000, craftsmen earn Rs 8,000-10,000) from lantana crafts.
ATREE now shares this expertise honed over many years with NGOs and seven forest communities in 23 forest areas of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra.
Why Is Training Important?
Training doesn’t stop at just the technical know-how of how to turn lantana stems into pretty crafts and pieces of furniture. While they created beautiful products, there was still a gap that limited the scaling up of this unique artisanal business. As CSEI builds on ATREE’s work, we realised that we need to upskill lantana artisans and!
They need to be exposed to furniture industry standards, to pay more attention to detail and think about more ergonomic designs that would cut down on excessive use of the raw materials and reduce labour costs by reducing the time taken for collection of stems and construction. With the help of Social venture Partners, we started this effort.
The Purple Turtles
To help with this, we brought in furniture designers from the urban decor company, The Purple Turtles. They trained 15 artisans over 45 days in September 2020 and taught them new design innovations as well as new skills such as frame-making and welding. This training also streamlined the furniture-making process, reducing the time taken and the cost.
After this, we also partnered with Archana Shetty of iObject to explore new designs for balcony furniture using mixed materials. We also collaborated with designer , who reimagined our traditional designs to reduce labour and transportation costs.
The Association of People with Disabilities (APD)
APD is an NGO that supports people with disabilities from marginalised communities. In February 2021, to train 10 youth with disabilities over 10 days to make lantana craft. Typically, APD trains them in a life skill like running plant nurseries that they take back to their hometowns where they set up an enterprise. Learning how to make gift baskets and plant holders from lantana was a complementary skill that they could use in running a nursery.Kaiyare
In July 2021, we also collaborated with , an all-woman clothing and accessories brand that’s promoting the use of natural fibres and other sustainable materials. They train women artisans who live in the Kabini wildlife reserve to make bags, baskets and other products from agricultural waste products like banana tree bark.The unfettered spread of lantana in the forests around Kabini and its effect on the ecosystem prompted Kaiyare to get in touch with us to help train the women artisans here. The artisans who underwent the Purple Turtles apprenticeship trained 10 women in July and provided tools and raw materials to this first batch. The women learned how to cut lantana stems and turn them into products like pen-stands, chairs and lampshades.
Our work with lantana crafts does not end here. If you are a designer interested in working with new and sustainable materials like Lantana, or from an NGO keen on conducting training sessions, we are looking to work with you.
Reach out to Sandeep: