Six months ago, under the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham started a 60-day certification course in making lantana furniture. While the project was begun to empower tribals, now they are also looking to reach others, said Mahajan. “We are also trying to replicate the programme in other parts of the country,” she said.
Residents of Seengapathi, a tribal settlement in Boluvampatti forest range, were first exposed to making dolls and chairs from lantana through a project funded by science for equity, empowerment and development (SEED) under the department of science and technology in 2015. The programme was facilitated by the Center for Sustainable Future, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The center has now helped residents start the ‘Siruvani Lantana Craft Center’, a partnership firm with those who have been trained in furniture making, said Maya Mahajan, an associate professor from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, who coordinates the project. The use of lantana to make furniture was a win-win situation as the plant is an invasive species which has been creating ecological problems in the Western Ghats, she said.